By Nico Beland
Movie Review: B (3 stars)
WARNER BROS. PICTURES
From directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris, Crazy Stupid Love) comes their first attempt at a dark comedy, much like Seven Psychopaths and Jim Carrey’s The Cable Guy. The dark comedy I am referring to is known as Focus, and there is certainly an aspect of the film that keeps its focus, and that’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air himself, Will Smith (Men in Black trilogy, The Pursuit of Happyness, Ali) but unlike his 2013 Shyamalan collaboration (After Earth) or 1995 and 2003 “Bayhem” messes (Bad Boys and Bad Boys II), he is enough to keep your interest, even if you don’t like or follow the film’s story.
I honestly didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I decided to see this movie, I came in with an open mind, despite the mixed reviews and I prayed that the Will Smith charm would shine through even if I don’t like the movie, because most of the time whether a movie is good or bad, Will Smith is charming enough to make it worthwhile, with the exceptions of After Earth and Bad Boys, but everything else, solid Smith delight.
Thankfully when the film started, the charm of Will Smith shined through and I ended up enjoying the film as a whole, not just for Smith but the story kept me guessing and there’s more talented actors brought in to be equally entertaining as Will.
Will Smith stars as con man, Nicky Spurgeon who is a professional at stealing valuable things from people’s pockets without them noticing and making a profit off the items. Whether it’s a wallet, rare jewelry, or a wad of cash, his eyes are all over it.
That is until he meets a beautiful young woman named Jess Barrett (Margot Robbie-About Time, The Wolf of Wall Street) and he becomes romantically attracted to her when he shows off his stealing tricks to her. So the two of them become partners is stealing people’s personal items and making a fortune off it, oh and lots of gambling.
However she gets too close to comfort around Nicky and he breaks up the relationship. Three years later, Jess becomes the ultimate femme fatale and appears in Buenos Aires as the opposing side to Nicky’s scam, a billionaire racecar owner.
As Nicky continues going through with the scam, Jess throws his plans for a loop and himself out of the game.
Overall, Focus is a decent thriller as well as an amusing dark comedy, most of the enjoyment is thanks to Will Smith, but Margot Robbie does a fine enough job as the love interest. It’s not as heavy with violence as Coen Brothers or Quentin Tarantino dark movies like Pulp Fiction or Burn After Reading, but some intense moments are present during this movie, so be a bit cautious.
But the violence is not the focus of the movie, it’s the story and the characters and they’re developed well. The story is complex, but not as complex as a Christopher Nolan movie, so there may not be a reason to watch it twice to understand it all, but it does keep you guessing and you’re unaware of what’s going to happen to the characters.
I wouldn’t say it’s one of Will Smith’s masterpieces like Men in Black, Ali, or The Pursuit of Happyness, but if you want something that will tease your brain, thrill, and make you laugh with Smith charm, this one’s not a bad film to check out, just make sure you Focus on it.