Review By: Mike Agostinelli
These days, many movies try to be cool. The Fast and the Furious franchise is the biggest offender. Every character struts around, uttering “cool” lines like robots while driving “cool” cars, as they attempt to be flirtatious with sexy women. None of this is even remotely cool. Like in life, when you try to be cool you come off lame. Only when you just happen to be naturally cool is when the true magic happens. That explains Focus in a nutshell.
Focus centers on a suave and sly con man played by Will Smith, who takes a promising and sexy up-and-comer (Margot Robbie) under his wing just in time for Super Bowl weekend in New Orleans. After a brief fling and a whirlwind week of antics, things sour between the two and we jump ahead three years to Smith’s character in the midst of another job. Naturally, his former lady love pops back into his life to complicate matters professionally and personally at this highly inconvenient time. From here, things get twisty and turny, with some hot sex and fantastic shots of the ridiculously hot Margot Robbie along the way.
If I could sum this movie up in one word, it would simply be: cool. This movie is cool. Not the forced kind of cool, but the effortless, natural kind. It’s mostly due to the charisma and chemistry of the two leads. You get the suspicion that these two have had sex in real life at some point. It actually wouldn’t shock me in the least if it comes out that they have. This chemistry is something Fifty Shades of Grey desperately needed, but sorely lacked. Smith is his usual charming self, but Robbie surprises with the level of on-screen magnetism that she has. She lures you right in and makes you a puppy dog as a viewer, which is fitting since she’s doing the same to the characters in the film. I look forward to seeing these two again in next years DC Comics Suicide Squad adaptation.
There is also some cool visual tricks pulled off by the directing pair of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. When Smith’s character Nicky is in the midst of a gambling spiral in the brilliantly clever and well staged sequence at the Super Bowl, the camera loses focus and the image spikes, mirroring his characters internal turmoil. There is also a unique conversation scene at a race track, where the convo is constantly interrupted by the loud cars speeding by on the track, adding an unexpected flair to a scene that would have been plain otherwise. I anticipate seeing what these guys direct next.
The film isn’t perfect though. Towards the end there are a bit too many twists for it’s own good, and at some points you’re left trying to piece everything together in your head when you should be paying attention to the movie itself. The story is also oddly structured. I didn’t see the need for a three year time jump near the middle, when the same effect could have been achieved by simply jumping things a month or two later. The “villain” of the piece is also a bit of an idiot, and his mind set is inconsistent. He has no problem attempting to smother one character, but is highly disgusted and offended when another is shot in front of him.
But these are minor quibbles. A movie like this lives and dies on the on-screen chemistry of its two leads alone, and in that area Focus hits a home run. Also: I would likely do whatever Margot Robbie asked me to do. Anything. Including eating poop.
I give Focus an 8 out of 10.