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Focus Review

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The art of con has been committed to the big screen a few times before, with The Sting, Grifters, and Steven Soderbergh's Oceans Eleven, being some notable examples. Now, Focus has come our way, trying it's best to take it's place on that prestigious list. Written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You, Philip Morris, Crazy, Stupid, Love), there is no denying that Focus is a slick and stylish affair, but it's clear that Ficarra and Requa are far too interested in fooling the audience with the numerous cons swirling around in this story, and the movie suffers because of it. 


Seasoned con man Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith) breaks his cardinal rule when he falls for his protege Jess (Margot Robbie). When she gets too close for comfort, he severs all ties, only for her to come back into his life three years later, now an accomplished femme fatale, as he is in the midst of his latest, most dangerous scam. 

From the opening frame, Focus is a hell of a lot of fun. Ficarra and Requa have injected a heavy dose of stylish glamour into the movie, and we're thrown into Nicky's duplicitous world with some brilliantly edited, fast paced scenes of mass pick pocketing and other deceitful acts. These sequences fizz with so much energy that you would gladly want to spend more time with them, and they provide the movie with it's best moments, a mid movie set piece involving BD Wong's compulsive gambler being the biggest highlight. But as good as they are, they also embody Focus' biggest problem. By its very nature, the story always has you looking for the next con, and the script never compensates for that. You are always waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under you that you can't help but look for the hands grabbing at the edges, and it hurts the narrative. The focus (heh) is obviously supposed to be Nicky and Jess' romance, but it gets lost in the twists and turns, and, again, you are always waiting for the con that it never feels real, and at times the movie feels like it's spinning it's wheels. I will admit that there is a good momentum to the story for the most part, but several plot points are set up so badly that the finale, which should surprise you with how everything come together, can be seen coming from the first act.

Thankfully, the cast do a great job of pulling Focus together when it starts to fall apart, with Will Smith in the best form he has been in for quite some time. He is his usual charming self, and injects some welcome humour when the movie threatens to take itself too seriously. There is great chemistry between himself and Robbie, who doesn't really give off the femme fatale vibe she clearly wants to, but is still more than a coy smile and a revealing dress. She does feel slightly underused at times, especially in the first act where she just seems to be reacting to Smith revealing the tricks of his trade, but she proves herself as the movie goes on, not exactly matching Smith, but certainly doing a good job. Save for 300's Rodrigo Santoro, by far the movies worst part, the supporting cast do a great job, especially Adrian Martinez as scene stealing comic relief Farhad.

While fun and entertaining, Focus tries too hard to fool the audience, to the point of failing to completely, but it's style and game cast do a great job of keeping this on track.






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The Movie Bit: Focus Review
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