Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Focus

FocusWill Smith plays an expert con-man with an attractive young protégé in the comedy Focus. Nicky Spurgeon (Smith) is a seasoned grifter, who learned everything that he knows from his father, with the key to his cons being to never lose focus of the mark.  One night Nicky meets an attractive young woman named Jess Barrett (Margot Robbie), who he catches in the middle of an attempt to con him.  Impressed with his skills, Margot wants Nicky to become her mentor, which he reluctantly agrees to.  However, things get complicated once the two start being attracted to each other, since it’s not a good idea to become emotionally involved with someone in this business.

It really seems like it has been forever since Will Smith has had a starring role in a film like Focus.  There was a time 10-15 years ago when it seemed like Smith was everywhere and that he could do no wrong.  However, as he began getting older, Smith started stepping back from the spotlight, as he focused a bit more on producing (and perhaps spreading a bit of nepotism in regards to his children).  However, it’s great seeing Smith back in Focus, which I believe is his first starring role since After Earth in 2013.  Joining him is up and coming Australian actress Margot Robbie, who is making her first major leading role, since breaking out in The Wolf of Wall Street.

As a con-man film, there probably isn’t that much in Focus, which hasn’t been seen in countless other films.  In fact there is a scene in the film, which almost seemed like it was lifted straight out of Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight and the film as a whole had a big Ocean’s Eleven vibe to it.  However, the fact that Focus isn’t an entirely original film, didn’t stop me from enjoying the action, particularly when it came to Nicky breaking down how a successful con was pulled off.  It also didn’t hurt that Smith and Robbie had pretty good chemistry with each other, despite having more than a twenty year age difference.

The good chemistry between Smith and Robbie probably helps with the structure of the plot, which is divided into two pretty distinct halves, focusing on different jobs that Nicky is performing.  This does make Focus almost feel like two films at time, with Smith and Robbie being the only real connector between the two halves.  It would also be expected for a con-man film like this to have a Ocean’s Eleven-level supporting cast.  However, none of the other characters really stand out, except for perhaps Adrian Martinez as Nicky’s overweight friend Farhad.  There is also Rodrigo Santoro as billionaire motorsport team owner Rafael Garriga, who becomes involved with one of Nicky’s jobs.

Despite some of the small nitpicks I have with the film, I still overall found Focus to be an overall enjoyable con-man comedy.

★ ★ ★ ★ | LIKED IT

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).