HOLLYWOOD—It’s been quite some time since a caper flick has hit theaters, at least one that knows how to present the audience with constant questions on who can and who can’t be trusted. The new heist thriller “Focus” starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie is indeed a fun-ride.
Smith stars as Nicky Spurgeon, a con-man who is quite stellar at what he does. He’s suave, good-looking and smooth on so many fronts its scary. He meets a formidable foe when he spots the beautiful and charming Jess (Robbie) who exudes a level of sex appeal that is not only irresistible to Nicky, but the audience.
In her attempt to con Nicky, Jess learns the most important rule of all: focus. So why is focus so critical when you’re manifesting a scheme? Well if you lose focus, you place yourself in a predicament where the slightest distraction will cause everything to come crumbling down.
The narrative soon follows Nicky taking Jess under his wing and teaching her the ropes. She proves her wits and array of knowledge by digging up every single detail about Nicky’s life including how his grandfather was shot by his father in a con gone wrong. To further prove her loyalty, Nicky arranges a string of tests for his protégé to test her skill of distraction. She passes with flying colors.
The fascinating aspect of “Focus” is that the chemistry between co-stars Smith and Robbie is so amazing; it leaves the viewer fixated on their characters. That is perhaps the one problem the movie falters from. Having two characters well fleshed out, while the others are just there to be there.
As much as we’d like to believe they serve a purpose that is not necessarily the case. This movie is indeed about Nicky and Jess, how their relationship evolves over time, and the cardinal rule Nicky failed to remember from his father; never lose focus, but don’t get emotionally attached.
As a spectator you never quite know rather Nicky is playing Jess or if his feelings are genuine and vice versa. Jess is so good it seems believable from the first time the characters meet, she was playing him all along; at least we suspect that. These characters go from having an instant attraction to not seeing each other for more than three years. They re-team when the duo attempt to swindle a massive amount of cash from motorsport team owner (Rodrigo Santoro), and the love between Nicky and Jess ultimately gets in the way of the con, where a shocking revelation or two is revealed about the characters that we think we know.
“Focus” may not have the strongest narrative, but the acting from its two main stars is solid, which makes the ride quite fun. The biggest turnoff for those hitting the theater thinking this is a full-blown caper heist is that its not. It has caper-themed elements, but they don’t fully manifest in the way previous crowd-pleasers like “The Thomas Crown Affair” or “The Italian Job” has done in the past.
While not perfect, “Focus” is a movie that has some interesting twists and surprises that will keep audiences on edge from start till its finish.