Perfect date night fare, Focus almost carries the day with it's dizzying celebration of old school entertainment with Smith and Robbie displaying chemistry to burn. It’s only after the credits start rolling that you realise there is a twenty plus year gap between the two players. Robbie was five years old when Smith delivered his first blockbuster Bad Boys.
The music immediately grabs your attention. “I’m a manchild” from Bruno Havart plays as the camera pans to Will Smith still charismatic edging 25 years as a bona fide film star. For most of its length the latest film from Glenn Ficara & John Requa (Crazy, Stupid Love) is a bright and breezy enjoyment. It also confirms the promise that Margot Robbie showed in Wolf of Wall Street, whenever she is on the screen she lights it up. She is stunningly beautiful which hides her talent for stealing scenes from her more experienced leading men.
The film centres around the master conman Nicky (Smith) showing the young ingénue Jess (Robbie) the ropes. It begins with an amateur hustle and soon progresses to more complex organised scams. The downside is that most of their victims seem to be innocent schmucks, particularly in the New Orleans scenes. But Ficara and Requa keep the camera moving to ensure we don’t pause too long to question the true characters of these calculating grifters. For a darker version watch Stephen Frears brilliant The Grifters, Xavier Grobet's (Enough Said) cinematography sets the slick tone for the proceedings. The film jumps from one exotic location to the next, from New Orleans to Buenos Aires, with a 50 million budget it looks twice as expensive. A scene at a Formula One race track is inspired and a triumph of sound design.
The film falters towards the end as the final con plays out. The resolution is absurd to say the least. However if you can accept these contrivances your enjoyment of Focus will be undiminished.