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FOCUS (review)

Review by Caitlyn Thompson
Produced by Denise Di Novi
Written and Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro, 
Gerald McRaney, BD Wong, Robert Taylor, Dominic Fumusa

A sexy and mysterious conman takes on a gorgeous young woman as his intern.

Formulaic shenanigans ensue.

That’s Focus.

As far as con artist films go, this one is satisfactory, but only just so.

My qualms:

The movie is overall fun and dapper in the moment, but I found it immediately forgettable upon completion. Characters and plot are thin and formulaic. Expository scenes of con-life and rules all play out by the end of the film.

The twists and turns turn and twist but we all know the outcome before it happens.
I wasn’t convinced of any chemistry between Nicky (Will Smith) and Jess (Margot Robbie) either. It often looks as though they are about to break character and start giggling. Their back-stories are alluded to, but never expanded upon. Robbie’s character reaches for some depth initially by blurting out, “I’m a dyslexic foster kid.” It’s an awkward throw away line and her past is non-existent from that point on.

I was also distracted by Smith’s voice – he’s got the Matthew McConaughey slow, rasp mumbling thing going on. Just makes him look tired. In contrast, Robbie is very energetic, occasionally shrill even. Her eyes are always filled with wonder, and she’s always shocked and amused and squealing when her co-star pulls one over her head. It’s cute. But it gets boring.

Supporting characters are fairly bland as well. The goofy sidekick gets some laughs, the hot bad guy smiles and slithers and gets angry. B.D. Wong makes an odd appearance. And he’s great, but that’s it. He was there and then he wasn’t.

Directors/writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa give us several scenes of witty banter, which are enjoyable, but not too clever.

It’s disappointing in fact, because their script for Crazy Stupid Love was so hilarious and smart.

You’ll obviously laugh during Focus because Will Smith is Will Smith and he has great timing, charm, and delivery, but I expected more from the directors, especially since they put the film together so seamlessly.

Focus is very aesthetically pleasing, rich with impeccable wardrobes, exquisitely fancy hotels, luxury cars, and gorgeous birds-eye views of New York City, New Orleans and Buenos Aires. The colors are vibrant, and the camera work is simultaneously seductive and exciting. Of course, as tribute to the film’s title, the shots tend to go in and out of focus at the beginning and end of most scenes. And while it may get repetitive, it works. 

Know that the movie is exactly what you’re expecting it be: a bunch of really attractive people stealing from the masses and are never even slightly remorseful about it.

And while attractive people in attractive places are indeed fun to watch on the big screen, I would wait until it comes out on DVD for a viewing.

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