Focus, directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, stars Will Smith as veteran con artist Nicky Spurgeon, who takes newcomer Jess Barrett, as played by Margot Robbie, under his wing and teaches her the tricks of the trade. The directing pair are veterans of the romantic-comedy genre, having previous directed 2011 hit Crazy Stupid Love, although while the backdrop of this film is darker, the movie has an overall lighter tone and brings more laughs instead of tears.
Nicky sees potential in Jess, and introduces her to his team of con artists, working the Not-Super Bowl, where we see the Chicago Rhinos take a dump on NFL culture. After him and Jess part ways when all is said and done at the big game in New Orleans, they meet again three years later while both separately plan to work the same man. Having previously shared personal details with her that he had never shared before, they begin to form a real bond.
At least, that’s assuming that neither one of them is lying about their personal details, seeing that they’re con artists. That’s actually the biggest issue that you’ll have with the movie; if they’re both con artists, why do they trust each other so much? They are both literally lying for a living. Lying is both their job, their hobby and their utmost passion.
The fact that they can even define the word trust is a conundrum. The audience will probably only think of that once while viewing the film, but you only need to think of a plot hole once for the entire show to fall apart.But despite that, Will Smith and Margot Robbie play off very well against each other. They have believable chemistry and when they’re on the screen together, the relationship feels authentic. One of the best scenes is near the beginning of the film, when Nicky uses showing Jess some basic ways to boost a man’s wallet as a transparent guise for some touchy-feely flirtation. The relationship feels real, it feels engaging and it’s a pleasant surprise from Will Smith’s previous attempts at playing romances.
Xavier Gorbet gives the movie an interesting visual style, with sleek, panning shots and a sexy direction. Sexy isn’t exactly the word to describe the movie, however, since the titular couple only get in bed together three times. The second is only seen after the fact, the third actually cuts directly from the start to the morning after, and the first, the closest to the action, ends with Jess trying to grift Nicky for money. So, if you’re walking in here expecting to see Margot Robbie showing something off, it would be a better idea to just rent The Wolf of Wall Street. This movie isn’t rated R down south for boobs, it’s for saying the F-word one too many times.
The humor is truly interesting in this movie, because unlike most romantic-comedies, this is also a dark comedy. Which would make a great deal of sense, seeing that both principal characters share a background of theft, theft and more theft. It ranges from hilarious elaborate plots, to sex jokes that deserve a slap in the face but are so absurd that one can’t help but laugh instead, to the general flirty humor between the two leads. There’s some humor in here for anybody, and most of the humor is for everybody.
Focus is a pretty good movie. It’s not the greatest movie of all time, but it’s perfectly serviceable for either a date night or just a good laugh with your buds. February is pretty light when it comes to movie releases in general, so a good movie during that month is a boon. Long story short, it’s worth a Tuesday discount ticket.