Before I review Focus, I must state that there was a lot of commotion, especially in America, that revolved around the belief this film ‘promoted’ interracial relationships. Just by browsing through some of the YouTube comments on the trailer you spot the visceral reaction from individuals that are still yet to come to grasp with the modern world. I almost wanted to comment back about the other Hollywood Blockbusters that displayed interracial relations…but then soon realised there really weren’t any prominent films that did. The fracas surrounding Focus is one born out of old fashioned prejudice and something that I am sure will not, and should not, put off other production companies casting interracial stars for lead roles in the future. Anyway! Now the fun part, the review…
After a hiatus of 4 years, one terrible father-son passion project in After Earth and a ‘too many cooks’ sequel in Men In Black 3, Will Smith finally delivers what we expect… an enjoyable film splicing together action, comedy and romance, ticking both the masculine and feminine boxes for all viewers that are essential for a date night at the cinema.
Nicky (Smith) is an expert con man that takes beautiful rookie con artist Jess (Margot Robbie) under his wing. Expect the normal charming back and forth that no human other than Smith can produce, seriously, there is no way someone can have that many smooth responses lined up. The film centres on Nicky’s pursuit of the ultimate con, the con to retire on. To its credit in many ways Focus is superb, it is classy, clever in parts and there is genuine rapport between the actors. The first two acts fly past and it is only a fractious third act that lets the film down.
The whole film is told to us as if the viewer is a low-level con artist within Nicky’s group; we’re involved in the set up and execution but get cut out of the master con, left with empty pockets and open mouths. Throughout the film Nicky lets you in on a few tricks of the trade, on how important planting the idea is, manipulating the target so that they believe their thoughts are original. There is a lovely scene towards the end of the first act that takes place at an American Football game, the film plants evidence throughout the opening that makes you believe you know what is going to happen next, before revealing the true nature of the scheme.
This is Margot Robbie’s first blockbuster film since her role in The Wolf Of Wall Street and she holds her own, managing to be funny and alluring throughout. The best thing about having two actors that are so bloody good-looking that it hurts means that the audience are quite happy to just stare at their respective fancy whilst they gallivant around beautiful hotels and parties.
Now I love a twist as much as the next guy, there’s not much that can compare to being completely fooled by the plot of a film (The Usual Suspects for the ultimate example). Now to twist a twist is a rare move… now to consider twisting the twisted twist just means that the audience doesn’t really know what to believe. I think there may have been a few more twists in there; it was like a Helter Skelter! In the end it was a bit laughable, I couldn’t really understand how it connected with the previous scenes and it took away from what was an enjoyable watch overall.
Focus is a film that had potential to become The go-to con film, but due to a rather confusing final 30 minutes it falls short of great con films such as The Sting, Catch Me If You Can etc. Overall, it was a good watch and will slip seamlessly into fan collections centred around the following:-
– Will Smith meets female, is charming, commits wrong doing, performs grand gesture
– Margot Robbie being beautiful
– Plan. Execute. Something goes wrong. All is lost. Oh wait, THAT WAS THE PLAN ALL ALONG.