6.2 The Thieving Mistake
After a good start last week, what we got this week wasn’t quite up to the standard I’ve come to expect with Hustle. It didn’t really help that the story was focused on a previously unknown acquaintance of Ash, the abysmally bad grifter ‘Liability’ Finch, played by Mark Benton.
Benton is one of those actors that I found briefly amusing when he was advertising banks, but a bit much to stomach for the full running time of this adventure.
It starts with Finch taking a valuable painting from a house in Rio, where the security wouldn’t have stopped cows browsing, never mind an art robbery. This is fortunate for Finch, because he’s seemingly useless at the crime caper, which makes you wonder why he’s not permanently behind bars.
This whole burglary scene reminded me of those diabolically bad episodes of The Baron or Jason King where they flash a picture up of an exotic location and then you’re supposed to believe they’re in a bar in Tangiers or Monaco. We get three stock shots of varying quality of Rio de Janeiro, and then some day-for-night photography of a house that’s as far from Copacabana Beach as Bridlington.
I’m not suggesting they should have flown to Rio, but their efforts did look tacky compared with some of the classy scenic stuff they flaunted in episode one.
The entire story rotates around the gang going to the airport to send Albert off on holiday to Vegas, and then bumping into the hapless Finch, who has just been interrogated by Head of Customs Clifford Davis, looking for the previously purloined Van Gogh.
Finch left the painting in an airport locker in Rio, despite being threatened by the Russian who warned that if he doesn’t deliver, he won’t be walking unaided.
This is a set-up for us to be told repeatedly that Mickey and the gang won’t help him solve this problem as he’s likely to get them all jail time. But all along we know they will, even when Customs man Davis turns up and tells them to rip him off and hand him the money.
The problem the whole plot has is that we’ve all seen enough Hustle to know that when we’re told things in certain way it’s usually the opposite that’s true, so it’s not much of a revelation when their plan to get the painting and avoid Her Majesty’s pleasure kicks into action. There was, however, a very nice twist at the end, which I won’t reveal here, that did add some necessary Hustle-flavoured spice.
This wasn’t the strongest Hustle story, and that much Benton, for me, was more than I was comfortable with in a single sitting. There wasn’t enough Albert, and the stupid barman, played by Rob Jarvis, is so dumb he’s starting to annoy me.
I have, however, great expectations of the next episode, because they’re got a really talented comic actor, Simon Day, to play a playboy with a ten million pound solid gold tiger. That sounds much more like the brand of Hustle I appreciate than the one I just watched.
Read our review of the sixth series opener here.