After the disappointing After Earth and Men in Black III, being in a romantic-comedy looks like a safe bet for superstar Will Smith. A healthy change of scene before hitting the much-anticipated Suicide Squad, Smith teams up with Squad co-star Margot Robbie in a heist flick that is teemed with sentiment.
Focus follows professional con-man Nicky Sturgeon (Smith), who reluctantly takes amateur thief Jess (Robbie) under his wing, as he targets victims during a high-profile football game in New Orleans. The two grow intimate but Sturgeon quickly brushes her off when the ‘job’ is finished. Three years later, Nicky is hired by racing driver Garriga (Rogdrigo Santoro) to sabotage his competitors. However, as he starts to carry out his own plans, he discovers that Jess is now Garriga’s girlfriend, effectively throwing a spanner in the works.
Writer-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa hit the mark with a number of films, such as I Love You, Philip Morris and the delightful Crazy, Stupid Love. Hoping to achieve the same critical success of the former, the duo wrote and directed this caper that loses watchability halfway through.
The first half is quite slick, filled with quick hands and nice camerawork as the directors effectively capture the fast pace of the heist. However, the second half lags slightly under the sentimentality of Smith’s conflicted Nicky. The uncertain edge behind his relationship with Jess from the first half ultimately diminishes under a ruse of constant guessing games, losing its initial pace and intrigue. Additionally, the script is slightly uninspiring and doesn’t make the most of its leading stars’ on-screen charisma.
Smith and Robbie share great chemistry, essentially supporting the film throughout, and the whole production looks as glamorous and cool as the lifestyle their characters promote. It is a shame that at the end of the day, it is all about the heart than the heist.
Overall, Focus starts well, looks good with Smith and Robbie as engaging as ever but it ultimately (and ironically) loses focus.
Focus is out in UK cinemas on Friday 28th March.
Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Writers: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Stars: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro
Runtime: 104 min