Focus is Fun but Forgettable

After coming off some rather unsuccessful films, movie star Will Smith doesn’t have the impression he once had. Sure, I can watch The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air any time, day or night, but I can’t say the same about Smith’s films. As of late, his movies tend to be uninteresting or unoriginal. He took a really had hit after his last major film, After Earth, in which his son, Jaden Smith costarred in, tanked. Smith recently called the movie, the “most painful failure in his career.” Yet, two years later, the Fresh Prince returns to the big screen in this new film from writer-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Focus.

Will Smith and Margot Robbie in Focus

Will Smith and Margot Robbie in Focus

Focus follows Nicky (Will Smith), a veteran con-man who takes a rookie named Jess (Margot Robbie) under his wing. However, it doesn’t take long before the two become romantically involved which might lead to more bad than good.

“You take their focus, you take whatever you want,” Smith tells his protégé as he begins to show her the tools of their trade. Unfortunately, this movie really never takes your focus. It instead holds your interests for a short period of time, just to lose it fairly quickly. It also doesn’t hesitate to go for cheap emotion. The movie feels disjointed, and works better in parts than it does a whole. It never flows like a movie should, it feels like the movie had three different writers going in three different directions. For instance, I would enjoy the scenes of Smith teaching Robbie the art of being a con-artist. Yet, it would be followed by a scene that would quickly lose my interest, or jump to part which felt like it belonged in a different movie.

Althought, there was only one scene in which Focus, had me glued to the screen. Quickly after earning a cool 1.2 million dollars for himself and his team, Nicky finds himself at football game gambling with another spectator. That spectator is portrayed by under-appreciated actor, B.D. Wong and he quickly becomes a very interesting and entertaining character. It is the gambling your imagining that makes this scene work, its feeling the punches of the losses. Smith’s character finds himself betting a thousand, then five thousand, then fifty, until they find themselves playing High Card, for over a million dollars. The constant, nerve-wracking suspense is high as the audience watches  the money slip through our main character’s hands. The scene is equally funny, thanks to Wong, and tense. It is the only scene I felt connected to. I had a concern on what was going to happen, yet that disappeared as soon as the scene ends.

I didn’t hate the movie, I just didn’t really like it either. I do know that no matter how old he gets, Will Smith is probably one of the most charismatic guys working in Hollywood. From The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to this film, Focus, he can always get a laugh  out me. He is just genuinely funny. Yet, it is actually his costar, Margot Robbie, who steals the show. She was the character I cared about and also enjoyed watching grow. She is able to hold her own among Smith and in most scenes she actually steals the spotlight, as she delivers the best performance in the film. However, the two share a chemistry that will hold your attention while in the theater, but it’s likely you’ll forget all about it, in a few days.

Focus is a mediocre con-man movie that works better in parts than a whole film. It’s quite ironic, the name of the film being the exact thing the movie can’t fully achieve.

2 out of 4 stars

-By Jacob Tiranno

In case you missed our video review for this week, check it out below:


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