The Hustle is an outsized passion project for Rebel Wilson, a law graduate turned high-powered actress, now breaking out as a Hollywood producer. She pitched the film to producer Roger Birnbaum and production company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as an update of the 1988 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, this time with two female con artists Josephine Chesterfield (Anne Hathaway) and Penny Rust (Wilson).
Hathaway's Chesterfield, who is not quite as buttoned-up as her name suggests, presides over a Mediterranean villa maintained by her long-suffering butler Albert. She also has a hobby - conning money she doesn't need from likely gamblers at the local casino.
She and Josephine meet by chance on a train and a series of laboriously contrived implausibilities result in them becoming partners. But first, Josephine treats Penny to a crash course in the techniques of working at the high end of the business, a ploy which supplies the script - and Wilson - with a prolific source of the pratfalls that make up much of her performance.
At the casino, the pair fix on a young internet tycoon (Alex Sharpe) and go to work on him with one of the hard luck stories that are a specialty of Penny's modus operandi. The director, Chris Addison, sets a punchy pace for the gags but the ending comes with a shot of sentimentality that fits oddly with everything that has gone before.