Focus is written and directed by duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa whose most famous film to date is probably Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011). The movie stars Will Smith as veteran con man, Nicky Spurgeon, who encounters wannabe con artist, Jess Barrett, who is played by Margot Robbie. Jess does a terrible job of trying to pull a con on Nicky but something (her smoking hot good looks perhaps?) persuades him to pass on his skills.
The plot of the film is somewhat more complicated than my synopsis suggests which is what you would expect with a movie about con artists. I normally use the second paragraph of my reviews to talk about how the movie goes about telling the story, the themes it explores etc etc. There is no real value in doing that with Focus. It appears Nicky has some daddy issues but that’s about it.
It is shot beautifully with a lot of style and some great locations. Will Smith is his usual easy going self and Margot Robbie proves again that she is a true screen siren – her onscreen presence is undeniable although she isn’t challenged by material as slight as this. There is one really good scene based at the Super Bowl where I have to admit despite being a reasonably sophisticated film-goer the film makers got me. I’m angry looking back that I didn’t see the thing coming but that was evidence that I was settling into the movie and starting to enjoy it.
The film falls over a little in the final act because there is one, two, maybe three twists too many. It takes the Ocean’s Eleven (2001) model of having something unseen going on that is revealed after the con but does it multiple times. The other problem was that the movie failed to give the Nicky character a weakness. Superman needs Kryptonite otherwise there would be no jeopardy but Focus doesn’t bother with this hoping that style will carry the day. It didn’t bother me but when some of the early cons are going down the individuals concerned are targeting the likes of you and me. I accepted Focus as a a bit of frothy fun but there is no getting away from the fact it glosses over the impact of someone losing their wallet or prized watch.
For a film released in February Focus is pretty good. It’s not too taxing on the brain and it doesn’t take itself too seriously (for the most part). It will probably be forgotten as soon as its run in cinemas is over but I wouldn’t say don’t watch it. My rating 3/5.