Will “Fresh Prince” Smith has been a bit incognito as of late so I was jubilant to hear about his new film, Focus. While it isn’t exactly the return I was hoping for, it will hold me over until he delivers something better and more memorable. (Independence Day 2, Will! Do it!) At the very least we can be thankful that his spawn was not his costar this time around. Instead Margot Robbie is in the navigator’s position as the love interest and simultaneous monkey wrench thrown into an entertaining and even at times, charming machine that this is. After a more than impressive breakthrough performance in The Wolf of Wall Street, I was excited to see what else she could do. Much like Smith, she turns in a performance that leaves a lot to be desired. She is more scapegoat than necessity in her role as a wannabe thief.
While it’s competent enough, at times it feels like nothing more than a beauty contest. Who’s hotter; Smith or Robbie? I’m going to answer with, I don’t care. I want some substance with all the style being thrown around. On occasion there is something more than just handsome and sexy but it’s a bit too far and few between. A rarity of cleverness isn’t exactly a sign of intelligence; more so a constant flow of cunning would constitute something or someone as smart. Focus isn’t exactly in need of a helmet but the short bus is still close by. This film is the equivalent of a child getting C’s on their report card. They didn’t exactly fail but they don’t really deserve a celebration of their meager accomplishments.
Focus stars Will Smith as Nicky, a thief with a reputation as the best in the business. Seeing potential in a new hire, he helps Jess (Robbie) refine her skills as a world class thief. Filled with deceit and betrayal, those that inhabit their small world aren’t exactly of the wholesome variety. But in a business this risky, trust is all they have so therein lays the problem. Trust will get them killed without vetting and even then, it’s anyone’s guess. Die with the lie, they just might.
As I watched the movie, I assumed everything was a part of some larger scheme yet to take shape. I assumed correctly. This is the film’s biggest downfall; the end and how they get there isn’t exactly predictable but the veil of is it real or not is useless. If you just predict that everything that follows is a lie or scheme you’re pretty spot on. The most intriguing and dare I say shocking moment of the film doesn’t happen until roughly the last twenty minutes. By that point it’s too late to redeem all the potential they left behind. Is she working him? Is he working her? These are the most prominent questions that arise and they’re almost entirely the only questions that come up. It does this repeatedly to the point of it growing tiresome. And of course I can’t forget the most unimportant question; insignificant but still there, waiting to be answered. Will they end up together?
Remember when I mentioned the most intriguing moment of the film? Even this part is watered down for a happier, more audience friendly ending. It could have ended grittily but instead opted for the lesser; lesser in originality and more in the land of the mundane. I like when the bad guys win. They don’t always have to triumph; I just wish it would happen more often. Focus will entertain you but by the time you reach the parking lot after it’s over, you will have forgotten a large portion of it.
Rated R For: language, some sexual content and brief violence
Run Time: 104 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Adrian Martinez, Rodrigo Santoro
Directed By: Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 3.5/ Acting: 3.5/ Directing: 3/ Visuals: 3.5
OVERALL: 3.5 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer below:
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