After starring in only two movies (M.I.B. 3 and After Earth) in seven years, Will Smith is finally back in top form in Focus. It may lack the weight that I think it is fully capable of carrying, yet it’s a satisfying, beguiling experience anyways. Most of the credit must go to the spark between Smith and the stunning Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street). Their chemistry is undeniably alluring and the film truly rides that to the very end. A smart choice by directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (Crazy, Stupid, Love) when you’re dealing with an oversimple plot.
Smith plays a third generation con man named Nicky who is sly and tremendous at deception. He’s good. He’s damn good. After discovering and falling for Jess (Robbie), an amateur in his line of work, he makes her his intern, but more importantly, a part of the plan. So what is first thought as love is not and Nicky and Jess are no more. Three years go by and Nicky is doing what he does best. He’s cooking up an elaborate scheme worth millions. But his past shows back up in the form of Jess in a captivating red dress and she’s playing for keeps this time around.
Focus is an easy, stylish trickster of a film. It gets off on messing with you by being able to shift your attention from one scene to the next without you even realizing what you have just witnessed. Unfortunately, there’s not enough substance which leads to a missed opportunity to reach its full potential. Requa and Ficarra have the capability to take this story to a higher, distinctive level along with the terrific talent to support it. There’s no doubt Smith and Robbie make a dynamic duo.
Disappointingly, Focus loses just that—-it’s focus. It settles for just enough instead of going for broke.