Slick, stylish, cool and a little soulless, Focus is an entertaining piece of old fashioned Hollywood moviemaking. Will Smith is the conman working the grift, while Margot Robbie is is protégée and sometime love interest who complicates things when the stakes are high. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have created a film that sparkles from the outset but there isn’t enough depth to proceedings to make it truly memorable.
Riffing on ‘60s Ratpat style and Steven Soderbergh’s jazz cool from the likes of Ocean’s 11, Focus sees Will Smith use his movie star wattage in a way that he hasn’t in many years. He’s got the cool, but he keeps the swagger to a minimum as Nicky Spurgeon, the career crook who is always on the lookout for the next con. This might be Smith’s best film in over a decade and it’s good to see him branching out. Rising star Margot Robbie makes a good romantic foil for Smith and she’s able to sell the role of damsel in distress and cunning con-artist.
Writer-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Crazy Stupid Love) keep Focus moving along at a fast pace. They understand that movies like this are like a good con – if you don’t keep your audience diverted, then they’ll see the how the trick works. The smooth score and razor sharp editing means that Focus skips along without any flab. However, it’s too breezy and the film never feels fully formed. There’s not enough depth amongst the fashionable costumes and glitzy locations. The story has many twists and turns but each one is more contrived than the last and it never feels like there’s a real threat of danger.
Focus is a diverting piece of entertainment that cruises on the movie star cool of Will Smith and Margot Robbie. It hits the mark for a conman movie but it lacks the requisite gravitas to make it come across as anything other than light entertainment.
The Focus blu-ray comes with a selection of featurettes looking at different aspects of the film from the grift to the stars. Like the film, it’s all very diverting and a little superficial.