Running time: 104 min
Directed by: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie & Rodrigo Santoro
In the midst of veteran con man Nicky’s latest scheme, a woman from his past – now an accomplished femme fatale – shows up and throws his plans for a loop.
Will Smith is slick con artist Nicky, third generation grafter with a crew (of which he boasts there are 30) who work blags galore as they swipe, pinch, nick, steal, grab, rob etch anything from persons that they can lift.
This is the start of Focus and its slick. fast-paced editing throws the audience in at the deep and makes their head swirl with jargon and cons (or “scores” for the old school among us). The opening neon montage of a bustling city backed by a very hip and yet familiar soundtrack are another strength to this heist movie.
With quick grabs, punchy early dialogue, and one or two early set pieces, Focus starts off as a great con thriller come romance.
Sadly though, as the film progresses, the movie becomes less about cons and more of a love play between Nicky and his protégé Jess (Robbie). With such a punchy opening, the ensuing romance drags the movie along.
There is a minor pickup in regards to a long con but fans of this genre will have probably worked out the hook and the players before the mark is reeled in (apologies, I’m way too much of a fan of The Sting).
Sadly, therein lies the problem; had this been a tight Heist movie or straight con movie then the audience would have cared about the big score at the end. But the love interest between the two main characters features clunky dialogue and far too much clichéd plot lines for it to be either believable or entertaining. There is hardly a flicker of chemistry between these two actors onscreen and the movie suffers poorly from this directorial decision.
This is not a slick CGI Ocean’s 11 remake, nor is it film noir in the style of The Grifters or as taught as Heist (the film that starred Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito and Delroy Lindo), but a wet lettuce of a romance movie that has some well signposted twists and turns (though there is a character twist that is a little different).
If you love the Heist movie genre, then you will have seen most of this before. If not, then it will be fresh, though the romance might make sour the score; overall it’s average at best.
2 out of 5 Nerds