Back in 2011, directors Glen Ficarra and John Requa delivered a fresh, unique twist on the romance genre with the magnificent Crazy, Stupid Love. Well, they're back again... with Focus: a sleek, stylish and fun new thriller.
I've been a fan of Will Smith's for ages. However, it has been quite some time since his last actual decent film and it's hard to rid ourselves of the horrible taste left behind by the abomination that was After Earth. Focus, though, as the title suggests, shows focus and determination from the actor as it pumps some blood and life into his career and gives him a warm welcome back to Hollywood. And he's joined by the exhilaratingly fabulous Margot Robbie... who's going to give him a run for his money.
It's not hard to take one look at Focus and uncover a handful of problems. It certainly has its fair share of flaws and inconsistencies. However, it's not exactly striving for a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars, now, is it. It's certainly no Ocean's Eleven or Heat, that's for sure. But, saying that, it's still better than most of this month's releases and for a February release of its kind, it is a satisfying, charming, funny and entertaining 2 hours of dumb fun.
The film begins with Smith's upstart, con wiz Nicky Spurgeon colliding paths with Margot Robbie's Jess. The sparks are instantly flying as the two hit it off. When Nicky takes the amateur con artist under his wing, a romance, soon, starts blossoming. The chemistry between our two leads sizzles as the charisma pours out of them and you're seduced by this pair's likeable characters and their chemistry, more so with the latter as she lures the viewer in with her looks, her heart of gold and easy flowing wit. She really is a thief... stealing the show here.
The two begin to get a little romantically involved with one another but, with Nicky's living style - his personality and relations filled with deception and deceit due to what he does - makes him realise that love and lies don't exactly mix well, for him, so the two split and head their separate ways... only to bump into each other again, three years later. This time, though, with Jess having, now, refined and mastered the art and her skills of the con, she and Nicky join forces and things get a little messy.
The first half (it's not exactly split into your typical 3 act layout) of this film is smart and dazzling as we see the relationship grow between our pair of leads. There's a Mr & Mrs. Smith-esque feel to their bond and the chemistry follows those lines even more so as Smith is careful and tender with Robbie, gently easing her into his work. It's smart and entertaining watching them pull off a handful of various small cons and heists. The dynamic between the pair is electric, sitting at the core of this film (making the first half so good), and you really, very easily get invested into their relationship. It's almost like a teaser to next year's Suicide Squad, which will see the two teaming up again.
However, as the second half takes its toll... so do the flaws. It almost feels like a completely different film (a sequel, even) as they go after the big dogs. It becomes clichéd and there's a sense of déjà vu as it trudges into the realms of your standard, textbook heist. The chemistry is still there but the special quality of it is lost as Ficarra and Requa turn their attention to this grandiose scheme the two are pulling, rather than focusing on our couple of con-artists instead and the story there. For a smart, clever film, it's quick to contradict itself in losing its focus and departing its main concepts.
It's still an entertaining watch though, just not as much as it could've been. The film ditches its fun, jovial tone to aim for something a little darker but, frankly, you just want the high-flying bounciness that this carried in its opening hour. If there's one thing to say here, though, is that this film looks GORGEOUS! The shots are sleek and stylish and it looks beautiful on-screen, really driving that heist film feel. However, it's more than that. Focus is atypical in its approach as it's audacious in attempting to boast itself as a comedy, romance, action, thriller and even a bit of a drama, all the while whilst being a heist sequence too. Better yet, for the most part, it all hits well. I had a good, fun time watching this whilst it last. Although, it's quickly forgettable and nothing special.
Glamorous and light-hearted with a veritable, radiant Smith and Robbie, Focus is sure to entertain but, quickly losing itself, it's nothing more than your average, frivolous heist flick.
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.