Focus conned the audience out of a good movie

by Kristina Aiad-Toss

With Will Smith and Margot Robbie headlining, Focus, directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, seems to most like a promising con-artist movie with an exciting adventure. However, as the movie unfolds, the once boasting potential diminishes with a substandard plot leaving the superb acting and other interesting aspects in the dust. With New Orleans as a backdrop, the head of a con-man empire Nicky Spurgeon (Smith) recruits a female pickpocket named Jess (Robbie) to join his “crew” in a series of well-choreographed and highly-elaborate heists. Perhaps the strongest aspect of Focus is the complex relationship that forms between Nicky and that sets a key foundation for the film. While memorable relationships take time to develop, this film’s on screen love is rather hasty, and unrealistically perfect. Despite the rushed relationship, the relationship fits the feel of the movie and brings a lot of charisma, fun, and edge. The obstacles and turns the lovers face among the world of thieves grabs the audience’s attention and builds suspense.

Written & Directed by
Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro
Release Date
27 February 2015
Kristina’s Grade: C

The strongest factor to this romance is the chemistry between the two leading roles, with Smith and Robbie nail the emotional spectrum. Although the love interest is steamy and spectacular, other elements of the plot are lacking and mediocre. The long con is described early in the script and dilutes the suspense for the conclusion. The film divulges too much information too quickly, constantly giving away certain twists and key plot points. The script and the direction merely educate viewers on how an effective con should happen instead of slowly revealing the inevitable twist. There are no real clues for the audience to find, there are very little things for you to think back on An absence of tension or any surprises leaves the film with a slow, but somewhat interesting analysis of the life of con-artists.

In addition to the mediocre storytelling, the overall plot is monotonous and the pace of the movie is occasionally slow and boring. Some attempts to tie the romance into the story sometimes resulted in prolonged, unnecessary scenes, that were just more fluff than pertinent to the story. They did not play on the fact that the audience may be looking for clues as to what is going on. Following the lack of suspense, Focus is constantly barraging the audience with scenes that portray the characters as manipulative and sneaky. Viewers distrust actions being taken by the characters, leading them to constantly question everything. As a result, the movie becomes extremely distracting because you start to break down every scene to see what was authentic. After the downfall of After Earth, Will Smith has resumed his spot on road of making respectable movies giving an excellent performance in Focus.

Smith portrays the conman side of his character with suave, egocentrically shallowness. However, his performance is equally convincing when showcasing his vulnerable side, illustrating that hard outer shell beats the gigantic heart of a real hero. Smith’s excellent acting serves as one of the few forces harnessing the audience’s interest and attention. Following her Debut in The Wolf of Wall Street, Margot Robbie was the ideal choice for Jenn with her stunning looks and noteworthy acting ability. In any situation, Robbie portrayed her character with keen emotional intensity, from her enticing relationship with Nicky to when she was caught in the darker aspects of the game.

Also notable was the control her demeanor visualized during many harsh situations. Adrian Martinez is also brilliant as Farhad and the other supporting actors in the band of con artists add the needed spice to help this tale along. Although the tagline of this film is “never lose focus,” in the end the film’s inadequate storyline did ironically lose focus. Rather than utilizing the talented cast to naturally develop their dynamic, the manner of story telling blatantly reveals the twists and turns to the audience. Overall, the on screen chemistry between Smith and Robbie, and a few cheap thrills, leave viewers with an enjoyable and entertaining experience, but not one suspenseful enough or deep enough to persist for very long.