Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro, Adrian Martinez, Gerald McRaney, BD Wong
Directed By: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Sleek, stylish, and reminiscent of all the times Cary Grant had fun on the big screen, Focus is a fairly welcome cinematic entry at a time of year where almost everything is some version of disappointing or terrible. A lot of it can be chalked up to the charismatic leads, but a lot of it is due to a well crafted script. The script is so well crafted, in fact, that you can feel the planted moments. Foreshadowing. If this film is bad at one thing, it’s hiding the foreshadowing.
Smith is incredibly charismatic as Nicky, a con artist who meets and ends up recruiting Jess (Robbie) for his gang of misfit conmen. After he shows her the ropes, and the con is over, they go separate ways. Until three years later, where Nicky runs into Jess again, and is disarmed at first. Is she playing a different con? Can she be trusted? Will she cause him to lose focus?
Margot Robbie is actually quite perfect here. She’s someone I can get excited about being an A-lister if Hollywood really gets behind her. She’s the perfect blend of smart, sarcastic, and sexy. It feels like it’s just her, and she’s not acting. I think she’ll make an excellent Harley Quinn. I thought she was good in The Wolf Of Wall Street, but I didn’t really feel her star potential until she really held her own against Will Smith. Smith is super charismatic, and has made his entire career off of his strong charisma. She’s as good as he is. And BD Wong just chews the scene with his over-the-top character. He’s such a great character actor who just doesn’t get enough work. Same for Gerald McRaney.
But, without spoiling everything, I can say that you’ll see most of the twists coming because of the foreshadowing. Nothing is dropped in this film without purpose. Everything is perfectly tied up, and there are no loose ends. If they mention something, it will be important later. That’s just how it is.
And chances are, you’ve already seen Kingsman, so you need something to watch that isn’t awful. This is not awful. It’s interesting, and does a fairly good job keeping you on the edge and engaged in what’s happening on the screen. Sure, it’s not Charade. It’s not even Oceans Eleven. But, it’s pretty good even if it might not ever get “classic” status.
FINAL GRADE: A-