Veteran con artist Nikky Spurgeon (Will Smith) takes on intern Jess (Margot Robbie) to learn the tricks of the con trade but soon the pair become too close and part ways. Several years later Jess reappears in Buenos Aires just as Nikky is close to pulling off his biggest con and can’t afford to lose focus…
The ‘con genre’ may have been fully covered in the past with greats such as Matchstick Men or the Oceans 11 series but the team of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa manage to breath life into the genre. It’s hard to define the film as more than a romantic comedy featuring con artists, as far too much of the film centres on the growing relationship between Nikky and Jess rather than the ‘cool’ sequences of Nikky and his team pickpocketing and conning the general public. These are the better parts of the film and it’s at times reminiscent of the old TV show ‘Hustle’. Curiously there is enough comedy to even out even the duller drawn out shots of Nikky and Jess in bed together which stops the whole film being a bit of a drag.
What Focus does well throughout is remind you that nothing is to be taken at face value and features some ingenious ‘bet you didn’t see that coming’ sequences that will have you kicking yourself when the trick is revealed. However the ‘big’ reveal at the end lacks the punch that it should, this is more at fault with the script than the cast as Will Smith reminds us why he has such shining star in Hollywood and grown far past the ‘Fresh Prince’ image from his earlier comedies. There’s enough style, stunning locations and star power behind the film to keep you from focusing on something else, but it does get bogged down in empty space and the often departures from reality that would otherwise make the tricks more believable.
This year is set to be huge in terms of film releases and while Focus will probably be lost amongst the bigger releases this year it’s an enjoyable guessing game as the plot works through some great twists but lacks in the romantic spark that it tries to push throughout. Still highly enjoyable, fun and a recommended Saturday night in movie.
Words by Andrew ‘Mash’ Marshall