WILL Smith has a reputation for being one of the world’s most popular film stars.
That does not mean that his films are all impressive though and in the case of his latest, Focus, this is one of those disappointments that are seen from time to time.
Focus sees Smith play Nicky, a professional con artist who first encounters amateur con artist Jess (Margot Robbie) during a disastrous attempt to swindle him of his money.
Seeing the potential though, she is taken under his wing where she impresses enough to be placed in his team of fellow con artists. An inevitable relationship follows and though pulling off a multi-million dollar job, the two (reluctantly) go their separate ways.
Years pass and Nicky is seen working alone and up to his usual tricks by trying to con motor racing personnel, only to be reunited by chance with a more sophisticated Jess. His plans for a straightforward con turn on its head and he finds himself on an uneasy mission to avoid suspicion, get the money and win back the girl.
The directors of Focus, John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, last worked on the 2011 romantic comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love. That was an example of the romantic comedy genre being turned upside down thanks to its diversity, unpredictably and genuine romance. It is clear that they are attempting to put what they achieved there into the crime caper genre but the result just doesn’t work.
Smith may have likability and Robbie glamour but what is put on screen is rather uninteresting. The majority of their scenes play as a repetitive excuse for them to snuggle up to each other rather than concentrating on being a consistent crime caper built around the talents of the two actors, which this could have been.
The filmmakers also ruin their work by writing down a lacklustre bunch of second-rate supporting characters and focusing too many times on them rather than story. In all fairness, the only supporting actor who impresses is Gerald McRaney, who plays a security enforcer involved in the film’s only successful attempt at humour, a tirade against Nicky criticizing modern lifestyles.
Two significant scenes come across as relatively intriguing, but two scenes amounting to below 10 minutes out of a 100-minute film is just not good enough.
As with American Hustle and Runner Runner before this, Focus joins an increasing list of recent crime capers that have too much character and not enough interest.