Focus is a drama about professional con artists out on the job starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro and Rick Utara, directed by Glenn Ficara and John Requa, I’ve only just recently seen the film described as a black comedy and it’s a description you’ll only really apply to the film if you’ve seen it.
Because the film, as ridiculous as it is at the times, ultimately has a humorous, ‘Gotcha’! tone running through it, yes right up until the end, Focus works well as a drama focusing on just a few characters, not to the scale of heist films like the Oceans trilogy but being more reminiscent of Leverage as a movie. Focus certainly has that comedic tone, especially driven by the perenially funny Will Smith, who shines in the role as Nicky a very experienced but damaged con artist who becomes infatuated with newbie Jess played by Margot Robbie, ironically, as good as their chemistry in the film together is, their relationship ultimately detracts from the film.
It’s a shame I saw it that way at least, because I thought the film would have been a lot better if it had explored more into the lives of some of the characters, namely Nicky and Jess,
Nicky works the streets and clients with his elaborate con plans, with one plan in particular in the film so elaborate it reminds you that you’re watching a movie, though it’s brilliantly executed and one day he meets Jess, she’s amazed by his lifestyle and what they do and wants in on it. They end up working together and enjoying it as they go along but ultimately Nicky sends her away, not wanting to get too involved with her, they meet again years later, with Jess now more experienced and Nicky lusting after her, kicking off the 2nd half of the film that twists and turns and shocks to a degree.
Though it’s arguably unbalanced and not as well executed as the first half of the film, with that being said the performances really carry the film and Will Smith is fantastic as a troubled, joker pro con artist, really ‘Will-Smithing’ it in some scenes which seem to come naturally to him, making for some great dialogue. He works just as well opposite Margot Robbie and they make believable back and forth lovers, Margot gives a great performance once again and is more than just a spurned lover, really making the character her own and giving Nicky a few surprises here and there, which was great to see.
The writing for the film is also great and the dialogue is top notch, the characters are mostly memorable and lively, which leads to some great scenes and their interactions make the film all the more engaging, the plot itself is interesting throughout and I didn’t find myself bored at any point, wanting to find out just how it would all end. Though you can sort of see where it’s going close to the end, you will probably be surprised twice by the ending, you may guess that Owens was in on the plan the whole time with Nicky as I did, though I wondered to myself if the film would really be going with that ending, though it worked out in the end I suppose.
Overall the ending was a bit bizarre and left of field, firmly putting the film in near unbelievable ending territory with films like Gone Girl, Nightcrawler but just thinking about how over the top it was is just a reminder of the type of film that Focus is, unashamedly surprising audiences until the end. I won’t say Focus is a bad film per se, but it definitely could have been better, it works as a silly movie unafraid of being silly with over the top characters and a pretty entertaining plot from start to finish.
The ending may leave people with a bad taste in their mouths but I don’t think it took away from the film, rather it delivered that final ‘Gotcha!’ to the audience, concluding what was a thrill ride of a film.
. Lively, entertaining characters though it would have been nice to add some depth to them
. Engaging, interesting plot with a silly ending
. Nicky and Jess’ relationship isn’t that interesting, sort of takes away from the plot