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FOCUS (review)


Written and Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa / Starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie

Nicky: There’s a science to getting people to trust you.

Someone really needs to start helping Will Smith choose better films. The actor has arguably not made a good film in over ten years (some people did like his 2008 effort, SEVEN POUNDS, for some reason). With his latest, FOCUS, Smith truly comes close to a comeback, but the problem is that none of the film’s best attributes have anything to do with the actor himself

Smith stars as Nicky, a professional pickpocket and thief. Think Oliver Twist, but super fancy. After her failed attempt to steal from him, Nicky takes the beautiful Jess (Margot Robbie) under his wing, attempting to mentor her into the perfect thief. Their escapades go on for nearly an hour before writer/directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (CRAZY STUPID LOVE) realize that their film has no narrative. Jump ahead to three years later, Nicky and Jess cross paths while Nicky is attempting to pull off the ultimate con. Enter Jess to screw everything up, or so it seems.


Overall, FOCUS just slightly gets by with a barely plausible narrative, but interestingly, the film’s best moments come before the “big con” is even mentioned. One scene puts Nicky and Jess in a betting war against Japanese business tycoon Liyuan (B.D. Wong), all to the tune of “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones. This fifteen minute sequence is as good as FOCUS ever gets.

What keeps the film afloat is the Robbie’s performance as Jess. Her character is so underwritten and flat that it is shocking how impressively Robbie pulls it off. The character really serves no purpose in the script except to titillate Nicky and the audience, but Robbie adds something more, making her character the most believable in the entire film. This could actually be due to the fact that her character is not overly embellished in the weak script, but I’d like to give the credit to Robbie.


As the finale approaches, FOCUS begins to fall apart. Ironically, the film is best experienced if one goes into it doing the exact opposite of what Nicky repeatedly tells Jess, which is to focus of course. Don’t do this and you may have a good time.

3 sheep

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How many sheep would you give Focus?


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