Film Review: Focus

via Screen Relish

Will Smith was such a smooth operator back in the day. I mean that as far away as the days he was chillin’ out maxin’ n’ relaxin’ in Fresh Prince all the way until he and Eva Mendes were the moniker New York movers and shakers in Hitch, which was released nearly a decade ago.

It is nice to see that he’s still got it as a guy’s guy/hero in  Focus, a pseudo romantic comedy that stars Smith as con-man Nicky who meets fellow heist helmer-in-training Jess (Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street) and recruits her for one of his team’s biggest jobs.  While Jess proves to be a fantastic asset and helps them pull off their biggest con, Nicky gets too close to her and ditches her post-assignment. Three years later, Nicky is hired for a job in Buenos Aires at an international race competition, only to discover that his boss’ girlfriend is his ex love and protegé, Jess, who completely throws him off track in a time when his focus is the most critical element to getting the job done and receiving a huge pay-off.

This film is charming , starting with Robbie and Smith as a dynamite on-screen duo who are constantly teetering on the is he/isn’t she playing him line, particularly in the second half to the film when their story picks up in beautiful Buenos Aires. In the down-on-her-luck and most unexpected moments, Robbie is so convincingly cool, taking her work in The Wolf of Wall Street a step up. It is easy to accept Smith in this kind of role because it is familiar territory; he’s still got a handle on how to be that guy, the one who is well-polished and quick-witted with an emotional blindspot.

The swanky aesthetic is very similar to directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s last feature, Crazy, Stupid, Love, which was also dressed in the city locals and suits dedicated to the who’s who and cheeky humor. In this movie some of the funnier moments are due to supporting characters portrayed by Adrian Martinez (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) and Gerald McRaney (House of Cards) who easily distract you from the gradually tumbling plot in the second-half of the movie. The entire package remains slick and sophisticated, but the story ultimately makes several unexpected turns that are more disappointing than they are shocking. If Focus really required your attention, then you would see how the chase, while initially thrilling, ends up completely anti-climatic.

I attended an early screening of Focus last week courtesy of ticket giveaway from Warner Brothers Canada. Focus will release in North American theatres tomorrow. 

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