The directing team of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the men behind ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’, who also pulled double duties here and with ‘I Love You, Phillip Morris’, are no strangers to quick wit, borderline one-liners, sexy as hell men/scenes and oddball love stories all wrapped up in slick, stylish class. While they bring all these things to their new film ‘Focus’ - and hopefully Will Smith’s return to form - they’ve delved head-first into their con artist genre. It's sharp and fun, with a healthy dose of misdirection and slight-of-hand to keep you guessing.
When veteran con artist Nicky (Will Smith) meets Jess (Margot Robbie), he takes the fledgling under his wing and teaches her the tricks of the trade, baptising the kid during Super Bowl weekend in New Orleans, and a bumper mission is had by all involved. Yet in a game where there is no room for heart, Nicky finds his focus wavering and unceremoniously cuts Jess loose, only to run into her again three years down the track in the middle of his one big score.
The first half of the film barrels along beautifully, almost perfectly, but it’s the second half the loses its “focus” and steadily becomes unbalanced as set-up after set-up is, well, set up. With too many balls in the air, gaps are created without being filled, resulting in a payoff that you’re just - and only just - satisfied with.
Despite the tabloid front pages, Robbie and Smith don’t have that sexual chemistry you can cut with a knife; it’s more of a a brother-sister thing, but there is an attraction and you can clearly see how much fun they’re having together on screen. Perhaps it the pair’s 23-year age difference, but who am I kidding - this is Hollywood... any smaller and people would be suspicious.
While a little UNfocused, this film is stilled wicked good fun. It's clever, cool, playful, sassy, at times laugh-out-loud funny and utterly beautiful with great pick-pocket sequences, a trip to the Super Bowl, a race car track, and the streets of Buenos Aires.