Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie. Two con artists, one a seasoned veteran and the other just starting to learn the world of con artists by wishing to engage with a higher level of con. Their careers interlink and romance blossoms leading to complications with certain jobs each of them undertake.
Focus is a fun film, impeccably stylish with exotic locations and large amounts of money involved for the taking. It never really stretches beyond it’s own ability as a film but instead focuses on what makes it interesting and fun, so while no new ground is covered or explored this is an acceptable element of the film as it’s main aim is entertainment for the not so hard of thinking.
There is one underlining issue that runs throughout the film that at times interferes with the narrative which in turn results in a distraction from the flow of the story. Owing to their careers as con artists, lying is something of a second nature to each character, they lie in order to attain money and they lie to each other. One particular scene where this happens is at the Superbowl where Nikki and Jess appear to have gone on a date, we are told before hand by Nicky’s right hand man that Nicky has a gambling problem but who is currently in possession of all the money from a season of conning and pick pocketing various expensive items. Nicky begins betting with a a fellow spectator and the bets grows increasingly more risky and higher in value.
This is where my problem with the film begins to take effect, not for one moment do I believe that everything being seen should be taken as face value and I don’t think many audiences members if any will believe that there is not a trick of some kind happening within the betting. Nicky would never had reached this level of wealth or success if at moments like these he were to bet away all earned money from both himself and his workers. We saw before briefly that he bets on small things like horse races, so as an audience member I simply do not believe this bet for a moment. Furthermore the frustration grows as we are pushed into believing that Jess has no clue what is happening, though this is plausible, it never occurs to her for a second that this may be another con. In regards to her character development this seems totally out of the progression that we have so far witnessed we have thus far seen her grow into, her character has been so far seen as a quick learner to a natural ability equal in many respects to that of Nicky. For her character to suddenly appear the damsel in distress which is supposed to be mirroring the audience one would have to assume, seems distractingly and drastically different.
This scene therefore hinders the believe of what we are watching and results in disturbing the tempo of the narrative. Throughout the rest of the film these scenes are far better executed, a saving grace in many respects, than the first ‘big con’ as it were. However despite a slightly rockier start then one would hope given the talent in this film, this film is fun and entertaining and continued to enthral throughout . The characters themselves do not require too much of a stretch for the likes of Margot Robbie and Will Smith, though at times Smith feels as though he has taken a tad too much from his previous characters such as ‘Hitch”.
OVERALL *** perfectly enjoyable, easy to watch entertainment with a interesting cast and enough glamour and riches mixed with a cocktail of exotic locations to keep you interested throughout. The only slight setback is quickly rectified being being placed quite near the start of the film.
RECOMMENDATION – Easy afternoon watching on the weekend and parts will stay with you with humour and a certain degree of silliness from the narrative which the film is aware of and utilises with skill.