Directing pair Glenn Ficarra & John Requa team up for the third time, following on from their success with ‘I Love You Phillip Morris’ & ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love.’ to bring us ‘Focus’. The film stars Will Smith & Margot Robbie in the leads as con artists who not only get caught up in the game but with each other as well.
Both leads are coming off films with very different successes. Will Smith was last seen in a significant role in ‘After Earth’ which did poorly both critically & financially. Margot Robbie on the other hand is fresh off the success of a breakthrough performance in the controversial, but critically and commercially successful, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’.
I have always found films surrounding con artists or big cons entertaining, and ‘Focus’ is no different. Will Smith has the on screen charisma and presence to draw you into the world of the con as well as being a totally believable player in the game. Margot Robbie also continues to shine in a lead role, having risen from relative obscurity she has yet to falter on screen.
‘Focus’ gets off to a pretty quick start, introducing the characters, bringing them together and setting the stage for the opening con artist action all within the opening frame. The pace at this point suits the film well with swift direction and good editing and as a result begins to sizzle. This is especially the case when Smith & Robbie hit up the Superbowl final to exploit their talents. However after the quick rise comes a bit of a drop, the film effectively resets at the halfway mark as a second con takes place. Though the change of pace isn’t significantly sudden, it looses the momentum it built up so well to that point. However despite the pace change, the second half of the film is still interesting, even if it does take a little time to get things rolling. Will Smith & Gerald McRaney have some great exchanges with opposite personalities and attitudes, but the relationship between Robbie & Smith becomes a bit conventional and as a result predictable and boring in the final act.
As far as films about con artists go ‘Focus’ is a nice little addition to the genre, it doesn’t complicate events and the story does not get bogged down and convoluted with the actions of the characters, a trap so easily fallen into. On the other side though it doesn’t break any new ground in what it does. ‘Focus’ is most certainly worth a watch, and it is great to see Will Smith again front and centre. Margot Robbie continues to impress and with a solid supporting team behind them it makes ‘Focus’ an entertaining and easy watch.