This week sees the release of Focus, a film which sees Will Smith and Margot Robbie team up for the first time and attempt perfect the art of the con.
Nicky (Will Smith) is a veteran con artist and he takes a novice, Jess (Margot Robbie) under his wing, whilst he teaches her tricks of the trade things get tangled up in a love affair so he decides to cut all contact. Years later Nicky’s working a huge scheme when Jess unexpectedly shows up and throws him off his game.
We’re expecting plenty of action and a good chemistry from the actors, whether or not Nicky or Jess manage to make it onto our list of favourite con artists remains to be seen.
Frank Abagnale – Catch Me If You Can
Frank Abagnale Jr. has to be our favourite con artists mainly due to the fact that the man himself actually existed, the film, in which Leonardo DiCaprio stars, follows his life and the series of cons he carried out.
Frank starts out as an idyllic teenager who wants nothing more than to see his parents happy. However, as things start to unravel at home he turns to small cons as a form of escape. Those small cons soon turn into elaborate second lives, and before long Abagnale is on the FBI’s most wanted list.
Not all of the events in the film are true to life, but that doesn’t undercut the fictional or real Frank Abagnale Jr. This film is a must-watch.
Irving Rosenfeld – American Hustle
American Hustle admittedly was a film I was a little disappointed in, but Christian Bale’s character Irving Rosenfeld was something that was enjoyable – partly due to the huge beer belly and the horrid comb over.
David O Russell’s crime caper follows Christian Bale’s elite conman forced to co-operate with Bradley Cooper’s FBI agent and put his very particular set of illicit skills to good use.
Rusty Ryan – Ocean’s Eleven
Now there’s bound to be some people who disagree with this choice, claiming that Ocean’s Eleven are in fact just a bunch of thieves, but they put a hell of a lot of work into their plans with plenty of cons along the way to robbing three Las Vegas casinos at the same time, so we think Rusty Ryan, played by Brad Pitt, still manages to make this list.
Rusty is Daniel Ocean’s right hand man, always has food in his hand, is the voice of reason and looks sharp in a suit. There’s nothing we don’t really like about Rusty Ryan.
Neal Caffrey – White Collar
Neal Caffrey has been eluding the FBI for years, running a huge number of cons concerning art, legal documents and identities, but his run finally comes to an end with his capture by FBI agent Peter Burke. In return for freedom, he works with the FBI to help catch long-sought criminals and Burke releases that having a criminal on his side gives him instincts and insights that are a rare commodity.
Neal Caffrey never fails to amaze us with his mind in the TV series, his plans although a lot don’t work out as well as he hoped, have flair and style that make him a delight to watch.
Mickey Bricks – Hustle
Another TV show, this one from the BBC. Hustle sees a sophisticated band con artists fleece the greedy and corrupt ‘marks’ they encounter in London. Mickey Stone (Mickey Bricks to his partners in crime) leads his gang through a host of long cons and they introduced a Hollywood slickness to British TV. Never coning an honest man, Mickey’s staunch moral code, even as he bent the rules of her majesty’s law, made him impossible not to root for, and spring boarded Adrian Lester towards Shakespearean roles.
Lawrence Jamieson and Freddy Benson – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Seductive swindler Lawrence Jamieson (Michael Caine) is threatened by another con artists named ‘The Jackal’ moving in on his territory. When Lawrence suspects small-time hustler Freddy Benson (Steve Martin) to be his competition, hilarity ensues.