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by E. Ladd
The latest Will Smith vehicle, Focus, is a comedy crime drama from the writer/director duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, previously known for their 2011 film Crazy, Stupid Love. Smith stars as slick confidence man Nicky Spurgeon who meets and becomes romantically entangled with an amateur con artist, blonde bombshell Jess Barrett (The Wolf of Wall Street’s Margot Robbie). He takes her under his wing as a protégé and shows her the tricks of his trade. After allowing her to join his team (a thirty strong con enterprise) during a New Orleans Super Bowl, they part ways only to have her show up several years later while he’s in the midst of one of his biggest scams, involving an international race car billionaire named Garriga (Rodrigo Santora).
Focus is a fun Hollywood film. The sleight of hand tricks and thieving chicanery are elaborate and sometimes surprising, the settings are colorfully chic, and the laughs are plentiful enough. Plus, up and coming actress Margot Robbie, looking like a cross between Jaime Pressly and Grace Kelly, is pretty easy on the eyes. Robbie and Smith have relatively good chemistry as the romantic leads, but at times it feels a little off. (This may have something to do with the age difference, as Smith is old enough to be her father). Still, the overall performances are solid, especially from Gerald McRaney as the gruff, no-nonsense Owens, the raunchy Farhad (Adrian Martinez), and a comedic turn from B.D. Wong as billionaire gambler, Liyuan.
I didn’t have any great expectations going into this film. I figured it would be the usual, mostly entertaining Will Smith blockbuster fare, and it is. Despite a contrived ending, the plot has a few clever twists, which keep you guessing who’s really conning whom. And Smith, despite his recent box office bomb After Earth, proves that he still has the charm and charisma to carry a film.
Watch the trailer for Focus
Issue Navigation> Issue Index > v14n8 (Mind Body Soul, Week of Thursday February 26) > Film Reviews > Focus
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