Written and Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Focus is the story of experienced con man Nicky Spurgeon, played by Will Smith, who unexpectedly runs into an old flame and fellow hustler Jess Barrett, played by The Wolf of Wall Street’s Margot Robbie, while in the middle of his latest scam.
A series of slick sleight-of-hand tricks, a handful of ta-da moments and two actors very much relishing their roles gives Focus a laid-back, easy to watch rhythm.
Will Smith, starring in his first leading role since the frankly disastrous 2013 Sci-Fi film After Earth, still retains a degree of charm and unfettered on screen likeability that few can lay claim to.
Margot Robbie is probably the films greatest strength, oozing a sense of charisma and personality that other actresses of her ilk can only dream of. You should expect to see a lot more of Robbie in the near future, with this film only adding to her rising stock.
Focus has all the right ingredients to make it a good film: charming leads, on screen chemistry, a slick, stylish panache and enough chuckles to keep popcorn crowds entertained throughout.
The film however does suffer from a few critical issues that linger throughout.
Firstly the makers of Focus seem to think that just because the lead characters are a sexy, good-looking pair and they’re stealing from random anonymous members of the public that theft is somehow OK.
With other similar films such as the Oceans trilogy or the more recent Now You See Me, there are very clearly defined roles in terms of heroes and villains. The people they’re stealing from tend to have it coming to them one way or another and in some instances arguably deserve to be hustled.
Here the line between hero and villain becomes blurred early on when we see the characters steal watches, wallets and purses from numerous members of the public but still frame these characters in such a way as to suggest that we should continue to get behind them and have a degree of sympathy for them when the going gets tough.
On top of this, Focus suffers from a chronic lack of depth both in the script and the characters. Coupled with the slightly skewed moral message, the film becomes a hard one to really engage with.
Aside from this questionable moral message and thinly drawn out characters, the film itself holds up fine enough short-term with enough twists and turns to make it worth a watch.
While perhaps not being an entirely original in its premise it does provide enough laughs and stylistic flair in its execution for a perfectly passable two hour cinema experience.
Focus is perhaps a film that doesn’t need a lot of just that, focus. The kind of film that can be casually watched on an aeroplane and quickly forgotten about upon landing.
It doesn’t experiment enough to make you remember it but it will provide ample viewing pleasure for those looking for an easy flick to pass the time.
Focus is on wide theatrical release now.