Focus. This is a movie that requires you to pay attention. Or don’t. You know what? I’m not really concerned. Because what you do is not relevant to the cinematic experience being pumped out by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. You might get lost from the plot, as I did, but you’re still going to want to give this snazz-fest a pass. Because you like watching cool people do interesting things on a big honking IMAX screen, you might get your brain tickled a little bit...and your intelligence won’t be insulted.
Sometimes the best special effect that a director can have is a great actor or two. And in this case, they get their movie magic by way of an impossibly alluring young actress named Margot Robbie. No, seriously. This girl is everything you want: inhumanly attractive and with charm to boot. Basically, she’s a dynamo; the screen sizzles with this woman. Now I feel like Ebert reviewing 'Intolerable Cruelty' describing Catherine Zeta-Jones in her prime. Will Smith is also in there, and he may in fact do some of his best work in a while. He plays equal parts cool and vulnerable with aplomb. He is the right person for the role of a seasoned con man who knows every trick in the book, and some that aren’t written down. He’s the kind of guy that you can just buy as a master thief/gambler/gamesman; it just makes sense that it would be him. His golden boy image works here, but he actually seems less cocky and arrogant than he has in previous roles. Maybe age is refining him a bit.
I wasn’t the hugest fan of the ending, but it was quietly poetic in an anti-climactic sort of way. I’m not sure if the general twists and turns of the plot will hold up in repeat viewing, but at least the movie begs you to ask such a question. This is that puzzle type of movie where you're always trying to figure out who's double crossing whom, while forgetting about the triple, quadruple, and quintuple crosses happening right in front of your nostrils. People who like to try and “figure out” a movie should get at least a mild kick out of this fare. I’m too dumb to figure out mysteries and such, so I just go along with the plot gears until the big moments are revealed to me. Like I said, either way it will work out just fine, and those nachos you’re munching on won’t have any less habanero sauce.
This movie glamorizes crime. There’s no question about it. If you wanted to be a pickpocket already, you are going to rush from the theater to start working the streets immediately. Come to think of it, I don’t even recall any police presence or threats of getting arrested in this flick at all. That’s rather convenient. No FBI, no terrorists on our hero’s trail keeping them under duress. Will Smith barely has time to teach people how to pull credit cards out of tourists' pants before he throws on his next pair of sunglasses inside a sports car. This isn’t a movie about good people per se, or even relatable people; and yet you are still able to take the journey with them. These aren’t your friends and neighbors up there onscreen; they are more exciting than that. Lose yourself in the playground of a smoking hottie – in the full Charlie Sheen sense – and a man who once punched an alien in the face. The message of this film is: never lose focus.