This exceedingly bland cable-TV caper flick received a lot of publicity when its producers sued Pamela Anderson Lee for leaving the project. (She claims she refused to do simulated sex scenes; apparently star Kathy Ireland felt the same way, because there aren't any left.) On the basis of
the finished product, it's hard to fathom Lee's objections: the film is nothing more than a style-less, sex-less, time-killer.
Veteran con artist Marsha Thomas (Kathy Ireland) is in debt to shyster Henry Kronfeld (Richard Sarafian), who defended her brother Frankie (Shareef Malnick) on gambling charges. Under Henry's orders, Marsha distracts computer tycoon Matt Conrad (John Enos) so Henry's minions can steal his luxury
car. Going to her wealthy older friend, Mr. Stein (Allan Rich) for advice, Marsha comes to the conclusion that she wants to leave the con game, but Henry draws her back in by agreeing to eliminate her debt if she pulls one last scam.
Marsha's assignment is to befriend a hard-working waitress, Jean Ivers (Audie England), who Henry claims is unaware that she's about to inherit a fortune; after befriending her, Marsha must then take steps to assume Jean's identity long enough to inherit the money. While Marsha frets about
deceiving Jean, she doesn't realize that she is actually being double-crossed: after learning that Mr. Stein had died and bequeathed his millions to Marsha (a fact that Marsha seems blissfully unaware of), Henry had in fact hired Jean to befriend Marsha and switch places with her at the pivotal
moment of inheritance.
Marsha learns about Stein's demise and comes clean about her past to a forgiving Matt Conrad. In the meanwhile, Jean has developed a bad conscience about the scam. To help out Marsha, she steals Henry's business papers, and turns them over to Marsha and Matt. Henry (who is serving as the trustee
for Mr. Stein's will) has flown to the Bahamas in order to transfer all of Marsha's inheritance into his own offshore account. With the aid of Matt's computer wizardry and Jean's info, Marsha outmaneuvers Henry and regains control of her fortune.
As thrillers go, MIAMI HUSTLE does at least have one smashing plot twist that amateur sleuths won't see coming. The surprising (and rather convoluted) revelation that Marsha is not the predator but the patsy is something the film can coast on--but only for a while.
Ireland is an incredibly photogenic individual, but onscreen her perky-cheerleader demeanor robs this crime drama of any sense of menace. As her sister-in-sin, England commands the screen with a far sexier display of deception and con-artistry.
But Ireland's performance is hardly the film's only problem. The scripting offers many dubious situations, including Marsha's relationship with the hunk millionaire. (Matt's ability to forgive Marsha could qualify him for sainthood.) Then again, there's the direction, which makes the table-turning
twists play like second-unit filler, and the sluggish editing, which seems merely to be a case of an editor dozing at his moviola. Seductively photographed, MIAMI HUSTLE offers many picturesque views of its Florida locales; as an attention-getting shell game, it offers little in the way of
fast-moving action and steamy sex. (Violence, profanity, nudity, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1996
- Rating: R
- Review: This exceedingly bland cable-TV caper flick received a lot of publicity when its producers sued Pamela Anderson Lee for leaving the project. (She claims she refused to do simulated sex scenes; apparently star Kathy Ireland felt the same way, because there… (more)