By Matt Jorgensen
“Focus” is one of those films that has you thinking about it an entire day after seeing it. It has its moments that could have veered in a different direction, but overall it was a sophisticated, intriguing, and to say the least, sexy hybrid of dark romantic comedy.
This was certainly one of Will Smith’s best pictures in a while, and shows how much he’s evolved over the years in the acting field. Margot Robbie played well in her role, but there was certainly more potential for her character. In her breakout role in “The Wolf of Wall Street” she successfully expressed her talent, so it wouldn’t have hurt to put some more focus on her (excuse the pun).
The film starts out by introducing conman Nicky (played by Smith), at a nightclub. A lady at the bar, Jess (played by Robbie), catches his attention and vice versa. She approaches him for what seems like a genuine conversation. Eventually we find out she was planning on conning him, only to be unsuccessful. The film follows Jess and Nicky as he teaches her the ropes of trickery and manipulation in his own con syndicate. The entire narrative definitely wants the audience to pay attention to the small details since that’s how conning is made effective. It’s full of twists and turns, catching a viewer completely off guard at times, which made the film all the more enjoyable.
Without spoilers, there are some things that take away from the experience. There is a huge narrative twist around the third act that is solely a deus ex machina, the chances of that particular event realistically occurring are one in millions. That plot device requires a full suspension of disbelief. Perhaps it is due to lazy writing, but if taken with a grain of salt, can be ignored.
The very ending had me scratching my head- out of frustration rather than confusion. I was hoping for a slightly different ending, but I suppose it was fitting for a romantic dark comedy. Other than that, some scenes have the audience on the edge of their seats, with perfect tension built around subtle character moments.
This is an aesthetically realized film for the sole purpose of entertainment, but it definitely requires attention. “Focus” is the perfect date movie or could easily be enjoyed amongst friends. I rate it 7.5/10.