Nicky (Will Smith) is a con-man running a simple con in Buenos Aries. His plans are thrown into chaos, however, when a woman from his past – the woman he trained, and never quite got over – Jess (Margot Robbie) turns up on the scene with plans of her own.
It seems like a long time since Will Smith starred in a movie that wasn’t about space, aliens or laser guns, so Focus, with its premise of a con-man who gets conned – feels like a welcome change for the actor. Margot Robbie has been an actress to watch out for since last year’s The Wolf of Wall Street, and finally gets her chance to step into a leading role.
Smith and Robbie work well on screen together, and seem comfortable in one another’s company. This works well for the characters, although they are sometimes given some odd character moves. The rest of the cast – Adrian Martinez, Robert Taylor, Rodrigo Santoro and Gerald McRaney – seem like they are just along for the ride, although they all get their moment to shine.
As with all con films, the audience is not fully versed in the story at any one point, which is just as well, since Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s screenplay begins to fall apart once the final score is revealed. As well as this, there are times when the entire film feels predictable, since most of the conclusion is alluded to in the opening moments. For most of the film, however, the story is slick and fun, with cons being pulled left right and centre, some witty dialogue and rather obvious but enjoyable character choices. The film is a combination of a love story, a con movie and what feels like a tourist video for New Orleans, but these almost always work well together on screen.
As directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa seem to have been making their own version of Ocean’s Eleven, only without the pesky other guys. The film is well shot, competently and evenly directed, and feels like a lot of fun. There are plot holes throughout the entire affair, but many of these are not revealed as such until the end of the film, and there is plenty of popcorn munching enjoyment to be had in watching the verbal sparring between Robbie and Smith, as well as some truly tense moments when cons appear to go wrong.
In all, Focus is a perfect popcorn movie; it’s filled with plotholes and inconsistencies – and a couple of downright daft choices – but for the most part, Focus is slick and fun, with the chemistry between Robbie and Smith giving us a little bit of hope for the upcoming Suicide Squad.