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Film / The Con is On

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The Con Is On is a 2018 heist comedy film directed by James Oakley and co-written by Alex Michaelides and Oakley. The film stars Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Alice Eve, Sofía Vergara and Maggie Q.

This caper comedy stars Uma Thurman as Harriet and Tim Roth as Peter, a con-artist couple cooking up a jewel-theft scam in L.A. to pay off sexy gangster Irina (played by Maggie Q). Having squandered Irina's loot one drunken night, Harriet and Peter escape to Hollywood, where they plot to steal a priceless jewel from Peter's loopy ex-wife (Alice Eve) to repay the debt.

Tropes in The Con Is on include:

  • Accidental Ventriloquism: Gina gets locked in the walk-in freezer in the kitchen. Jackie enters and starts talking to her pet Chihuahua Conchita. Gina hears Jackie speaking and starts calling out for help. Jackie looks in surprise at Conchita, and is now convinced that she is able to understand her dog.
  • The Alcoholic: Peter. Over the course of the film he consumes an amount of alcohol that would be toxic to most people.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The film ends with Harry and Peter on a plane flying to Brazil, wondering what they're going to do for money. Harry spots a woman a few rows back wearing a valuable necklace and starts plotting a whole new con.
  • Axe-Crazy: Irina leaves a string of bodies behind her. She kills one man for assuming she is a waitress: showing no more emotion than if she had just swatted a fly.
  • Bad Habits: The contact buying Irina's drugs is an old woman dressed as a nun.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: When Sidney sells out Harry and Peter to Irina for the price on their heads, she pays him with a briefcase full of cash.
  • The Caper: To pay off their debts, Harry and Peter plan to steal a $5 million ring given to Peter's ex-wife Jackie by her new husband.
  • The Con: Despite the title, The Caper Harry and Peter plan is not a classic con game. Instead it is part con/part heist, with a lot of improvisation thrown in.
  • Con Man: Peter and Harry are a husband and wife team of con artists who dabble in other areas of crime. The caper they plan to steal Jackie's ring is part con/part heist.
  • Dramatic Drop: When Harry sees Irina enter the club looking for her, she drops the glass she is holding and immediately bolts.
  • The Dreaded: Irina has such a reputation for violence, cruelty and mercilessness that she makes hardened mobsters crap themselves. Learning that Irina is after them makes it almost impossible for Harry and Peter to find any allies among their underworld contacts.
  • Faceplanting into Food: When Gabriel announces Vivienne as his muse on national television, Gina faints and face plants in the cake she has in front of her.
  • Fakin' MacGuffin: Harry and Peter make a copy the $5 million ring they are planning to swipe from Jackie. At the end of the film, Harry throws the fake to Irina to distract her while she and Peter get away. However, when they reach the airport, she realises that she has the fake and had thrown the real ring to Irina in the confusion.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: The fake nun buying the drugs off Harry pokes a hole in the package, dips her finger in, and licks the tip to test the purity.
  • Frame-Up: A flashback shows how Sidney planted drugs on Peter which resulted in him spending three months in a Turkish jail.
  • The Gambling Addict: Harry. She and Peter end up in their current fix because she loses almost all of Irina's loot in a poker game. What little is left, Peter spends on drugs.
  • A Glass in the Hand: Gabriel shatters his wine glass in frustration over the increasingly bizarre situation he is facing at his dinner table, and the fact that he is paying for it.
  • Horrible Hollywood: Represented by Jackie's second husband Gabriel. He is an egotistical film director, surrounded by an entourage of yes-men and hangers-on. He is having affairs with his leading lady and his assistant, regards his films being described as self-referential as a mark of genius, and is obsessed with a achieving legitimacy by winning awards.
  • Indy Ploy: Harry and Peter seem to be making up most of The Con they are pulling on Jackie on the fly (such as Harry spontaneously pretending to be the dog whisperer). This is largely because any time they do plan something, it immediately falls apart (such as Harry Slipping a Mickey to Jackie, only for her go hyper instead of passing out).
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: The Alcoholic Peter first says this when his wife Harry tells him they are going to Sidney for help. His says variations of it every time something goes wrong during The Caper; usually followed by him heading for the nearest alcohol and drinking straight from the bottle. Harry herself says it when things go especially off the rails.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: One of the reasons Irina pursues Harry and Peter across the Atlantic is that she is still in love with Harry, and sees their losing her money as the perfect excuse to kill Peter and force Harry to come back to her.
  • The Mafiya: The Big Bad Irinia is the boss of an Eastern European crime syndicate, whose henchmen are all thuggish Slavic types. Her reputation for violence and cruelty makes her The Dreaded.
  • The Missus and the Ex: Peter is married to Harry, but their desperate financial situation forces him to undertake a con on his ex-wife Jackie, which ultimately involves him moving into her mansion. This then puts Jackie in the same situation: living with her ex Peter, and her current husband, egotistical film director Gabriel.
  • Mistaken for Servant: When Irina comes to the club looking for Harry, one of the gamblers mistakes her for a waitress and asks her to fetch a round of drinks. She slits his throat.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: After Irina catches up with her at the hotel, Harry escapes and sneaks into Jackie's mansion to let Peter know what has happened. She runs into Jackie who assumes that she is the dog whisperer she has hired to work out her pet Chihuahua's behavioral problems. Harry decides to roll with it.
  • Mister Muffykins: Jackie owns a spoilt Chihuahua named Conchita. Partway through the con, Harry poses as a 'dog whisperer' and starts pretending to interpret for the dog.
  • No Honour Among Thieves: When Harry and Peter arrive in Los Angeles, they approach Sidney looking for a job. He offers them work smuggling drugs. However, as soon as they have left, he calls Irina to claim the price she has placed on their heads.
  • Not So Great Escape: Harry and Peter are in Jackie's bedroom, trying to get the ring off her finger after Slipping a Mickey in her drink. However, they are having a hard time because of Jackie's reaction to the drug. Jackie gets tangled up with Harry and then passes as with the the two of them on the floor. Then Gabriel and Vivienne enter and start making out on the bed. Jackie wakes up and then passes out again on the bed, shocking Gabriel and Vivienne. Harry and Peter are left to crawl out of the room before anyone notices them.
  • Outlaw Couple: Protagonists Harry and Peter are a married pair of con artists and petty criminals.
  • Pedophile Priest: Peter describes Sidney as a 'pederast priest', although from what is seen, his taste seems to run to (probably) legal teenage boys.
  • Persona Non Grata: Due to her strange reactions to drugs, Jackie has been banned for life from British Airways and isn't allowed into Canada at all.
  • Pie in the Face: When Gabriel announces Vivienne as his muse on national television, Gina faints and face plants in the cake she has in front of her.
  • Psycho Lesbian: One of the reasons Irina is so keen to find Harry and Peter is that she is love with Harry, and wants to kill Peter and force Harry to return to being her lover.
  • The Queenpin: Irinia. Her cruelty and sadism make her The Dreaded throughout the underworld. When Harry and Peter lose the money from one of her drug deals, they flee to another continent, and even then know that is only buying them time to rectify their mistake.
  • Replaced with Replica: Harry and Peter's plan to steal Jackie's priceless ring involves replacing it with a replica. However, during Jackie's stormy breakup with Gabriel, she pulls the ring off and drops it in Harry's wineglass. Later, while attempting to escape, harry throws what she thinks is the replica ring to distract Irina and her goons. It is only when she gets to the airport that realises that she is holding the replica; having thrown the real ring away in the darkness.
  • Rich Bitch: Jackie has become one since marrying her millionaire film director.
  • Robbing the Mob Bank: Harry gambles with the cash from a drug deal she is holding for The Mafiya boss Irina, and loses it all. She and Peter go the run to America trying to find some way to raise the cash to repay Irina before she can catch up with them.
  • Sinister Minister: Sidney is a priest and a drug dealer.
  • Slashed Throat: Irina casually slits the throat of a gambler who makes the mistake of thinking she is a waitress.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Harry tries to drug Jackie's drink at the party, but Jackie has a paradoxical reaction to drug.
  • Staged Pedestrian Accident: Peter and Harry pull this trick at the hotel—pretending that the valet has run into Peter—to scam a free suite.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Peter hates Sidney with a passion (with good reason, as Sidney was responsible for Peter spending three months in a Turkish jail), but has to go to him for help as he is the only contact he and Harry have in Los Angeles.
  • A Threesome Is Hot: This was part of The Con Harry and Irina were running when they teamed up in Monte Carlo.They would lure the mark into their suite for a three-way. However, it didn't work perfectly because Irina was far more interested in Harry and ends up shoving the mark out of bed.
  • Tomboyish Name: Harriet is universally referred to as 'Harry'.
  • Undiscriminating Addict: Peter is not only The Alcoholic, but a completely undiscriminating drug taker. He buys a tray of random drugs off the dealer in the club; takes whatever pills his wife Harry hands him, usually without asking what they are; and swallows an entire bottle of prescription medication he finds in Gina's pocket.
  • Villain Protagonist: Harry and Peter and con artists and thieves who dabble in drug dealing.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Irina is interrogating one of Harry's gambling buddies in London, attempting to ascertain her whereabouts, when she receives a phone call from Sidney informing her that Harry is in LA. On receiving this news, Irina casually throws a knife into the gambler's chest.