The latest offering from directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra is the brand new feature film, Focus. Released 27th of February, 2015.
The story revolves around a veteran conman Nicky, played by Will Smith, his beautiful protégée, ably played by the gorgeous Margot Robbie, and their turbulent relationship.
For Smith, who is well-known for his performances in films such as: Hancock and I Robot, this film is more low key. We may therefore all feel a tad uncomfortable about watching him in a film where he is not all about his wicked left hook and his gun! Focus is more of a chance for Smith to stretch his acting chops and show some real substance and versatility outside the daredevil action films he is known for and loved. And while this change of pace is quite nice the resulting film left me cold.
Everyone loves a good con film: The Sting, Ocean’s Eleven, Catch Me If You Can – we can’t get enough. But Focus will not be on my list of top con films. The actor’s performances were good, but for me the film was trying to do too much and therefore lost something in translation.
In film as in life relationships are essential; an accomplished movie has interesting characters and interesting character relationships. Focus may be eventful and action-packed, but so much so that ironically it seems to lose ‘focus’ on what is important. The character relationships lack substance and as a result the film feels bland.
You can clearly see that this film wants to make a pithy, smart statement about love and materialism, but it does not quite hit the mark. In my eyes it is trying to be another Ocean’s Eleven, a snappy con with a fun bit of romance thrown in to spice things up. Its sleek cinematography, gorgeous locations, stylish costumes and immaculately coiffed actors all point the film towards the same pattern of films I have previously mentioned. But, it does not quite make it. I place the disappointment of this film down to poor character/relationship development. The inevitable untangling of the web of lies at the end, although not completely predictable, would have been a lot more exciting had I felt more emotionally invested in the characters.
Overall Focus is rather bland and unmemorable, which is unfortunate because I think the on screen pairing of Smith and Robbie could have potentially been a winning combination. But the shining light in this film arguably comes from Robbie, her ballsy and street savvy portrayal of Jess proves her leading lady potential.
My rating: 5.5/10