Review: Focus

Synopsis: In the midst of veteran con man Nicky’s latest scheme, a woman from his past – now an accomplished femme fatale – shows up and throws his plans for a loop.
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie

Focus stars Will Smith and Margot Robbie as two scamming con-artists. While you would think, based on the film’s title and ‘Never drop the Con’ tagline, that the story is about scams, heists and cons and the focus required to pull them off, you would be mistaken. Focus gives too much attention to the personal relationship between the two leading characters and leaves the scam aspect by the wayside. This is not a movie about cons. This is a C-grade romance movie.
Unfortunately these two actors have no sexual chemistry that is required for this movie to really work on any level, no matter how low it is. This 90-minute movie, shot so over-the-top that it feels like a perfume advertisement, both begins and ends so abruptly and with so little that actually happens throughout it, that you are left wondering what you just watched. In fact, I can guarantee that the first words out of your mouth will be, “Is that it? That’s all?”
The alluring Margot Robbie is the only good aspect of this movie, further showcasing how she became such a breakout star after her role in The Wolf of Wall Street. This film feels beneath her, as her character mainly serves only as a love interest to Will Smith and a bait to the male audience.
The story is especially flawed. While it has a very select few of interesting and enjoyable scenes, the street scene in New OrlĂ©ans springs to mind, overall it is just beyond disappointing. The major scam, what I believed is supposed to be the climactic highlight, is a disappointing and predictable mess with loose ends that doesn’t excite in the slightest and is not worth the extraordinarily expensive $20-something ticket price.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re seeing a movie on the same tier as Oceans Eleven, Catch Me if You Can or any other of the excellent con-artist films from past decade; if you do, you’re being scammed.


Going into the cinema to see Focus, I had high hopes for the starring actors. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Will Smith in anything good with his last few films Winters Tale, After Earth, Men In Black 3, Hancock– all being a disappointment, while we all have high hopes for Margot Robbie after her stellar performance in The Wolf of Wall Street. The film started off abruptly, with both stars meeting unexpectedly in a heist gone wrong, and from there it rambled forward in a strange and clumsy way.
There’s no background on Jess- Robbie’s character, we know she was an orphan but that’s it, while we learn briefly that Smith’s character Nicky grew up in the business of scamming from a so-called Father. This is one of my issues – character development is lame and shallow. There’s no rise or fall or climax. The story goes as you’d expect with the characters falling in and out of ‘love’ (if that’s what you would call that performance) and the audience being fooled into a lame shot at badly constructed twists and turns. But there’s nothing new here, it’s all unbelievable. We’ve seen it all in previous con/heist movies and we’re not given anything new or different.
Sorry Will! I hope your next two upcoming films are better.

FOCUS is released nationally in Australian cinemas on 5th March 2015.

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