For a Movie About Grifters, ‘Focus’ Isn’t a Rip-Off

GameStop, Inc.

focus-1

With his output slowed down in terms of quality, quantity, and box office draw, it may be tough to recall just how big of a star Will Smith was. He carried himself with a wide-smiled natural charm. Even his B-movies, like I Am Legend and I, Robot (always with an “I”), were elevated by his charisma. Though Men in Black 3 proved to be better than expected, Smith turned down the lead in Django Unchained in favor of co-starring with son, Jaden, in M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth. In the wake of After Earth’s bombing, Smith was absent from the screen except for two minor cameos in Anchorman 2 and Winter’s Tale (He plays the devil; that movie is crazy) for nearly two years. But Smith is back as a leading man in Focus, a well-crafted piece of pop entertainment about a team of grifters.

Nicky Spurgeon (Smith) is the Hitch of con men. He knows the score. Like a chess master, he can see six moves ahead. Unaware of who she’s dealing with, Jess (Margot Robbie), an inexperienced yet attractive grifter, tries to pull a job on Nicky. Before long, though, Nicky is acting as a mentor to Jess. After a bit of tug and war, she joins his team of scammers who are in New Orleans for the Super Bowl, I mean the Big Game. Despite their obvious connection, Nicky reluctantly parts with Jess in New Orleans. Cut to three years later and Nicky is about to take on a job for the owner of a Formula One racing team, Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro). Nicky has a plan to help Garriga carry out an act of racecar espionage and is ready to follow through when he spies Garriga with Jess. Then the hesitation sets in. During a brief encounter, she says she’s out of the game. But who can tell when everyone on screen is a world class liar? There’s more than just money on the line.

That little recap there, that’s barebones because it would be unfair to spoil the film’s varied twists and reveals. What I can say is this film follows the perspective of its characters. It’s in on the con. As the characters are playing each other, the writing-directing duo of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are playing the audience. Now that I know all the reveals, I want to see the film again and see how many clues they slip in there. There was a moment that reminded me of Fast Eddie Felton in The Hustler, then the music cue validates my feeling, and then the reveal tells me I was wrong. While some of it seems preposterous, the film carries out its con man swagger so thoroughly that it all makes sense.

But it would be impossible to pull off this con without a talented cast, and they deliver. As mentioned earlier, Will Smith seems reinvigorated. Certain line reading and casual reactions seem so natural and consistently bring their intended effect. But as nice it is to see Smith be charming again, the film’s MVP is Margot Robbie. The Australian actress, who should’ve been nominated for her breakout role in The Wolf of Wall Street, has a deadly combination of talent and attractiveness. There ought to be a law. More importantly, Ficarra and Requa have given Robbie a real character with motivations and talents that aren’t solely related to her looks. She doesn’t do these things because she’s emotionally broken or crazy, it’s economics. The two leads are given great help by Adrian Martinez, Gerald McRaney, and B.D. Wong in their respective roles. Each of their roles are vital and performed to perfection, though I have no intention on elaborating for spolierific reasons.

As they’ve done in their script for Bad Santa and their writing-directing on I Love You, Phillip Morris, a criminally underrated film, Ficarra and Requa litter Focus with a dirty edge. There’s no intention of minimizing the film’s R-rating, Will Smith’s first since Bad Boys II. Most of all, Focus is a film that entertains and charms you while it’s stealing your watch. Best of all, you don’t feel ripped off afterwards.

Anytime Costumes

Leave a Reply

FanboyNation
Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
‘Sound of Hope’ is the Best of Humanity in a World Losing its Soul – Review

‘Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot‘ is the biopic...

‘Fancy Dance’ Tackles an Important Subject, Poorly – Review

Lily Gladstone’s incredible performance cannot save ‘Fancy Dance‘ from a mediocre...

‘Empire Queen’ Creative Team Talk New Fantasy Film – Interview

Co-Writers and Co-Directors, Chris Owens, Jason Schulz and Starlet Ciel Post...

Event News Event Reviews
‘Chess The Musical’ is a Product of its Times – Review

It is clear that, ‘Chess The Musical‘, was written through the...

‘The Old Man and the Old Moon’ at Mission San Juan Capistrano – News

‘The Old Man and the Old Moon‘ at Mission San Juan...

‘Holmes & Watson’ Solve the Case at the Laguna Playhouse – Review

Jeffrey Hatcher’s ‘Holmes & Watson‘, Enthralls Audiences in a Magnificent twist...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Oscar De La Hoya Partners with El Rey for ‘Friday Night Fights’ – Interview

The Golden Boy himself chatted with us about Golden Boy Promotions...

Olympic Runner Colleen Quigley ‘On The Road to Paris’

Team USA Olympic Runner, Colleen Quigley is On The Road to...

Paralympian Swimmer Ahalya Lettenberger On The Road to Paris

Team USA Paralympian Swimmer, Ahalya Lettenberger is On The Road to...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents – Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse: Blood on the cactus pt 3

Would you like to take a short survey for a chance...

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – Blood on the cactus pt 2?

Scone?

Fantoy Comics Presents – Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse! Blood on the cactus pt 1

It was really bloody, limbs hacked, heads torn off etc

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs & Sketches’ – Interview

Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs &...

Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her Career in the Arts

First Generation Assyrian-Chaldean, Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her...

Louden Swain Headlining Los Angeles Show at The Echo

Press Release – Louden Swain are headlining Los Angeles show at...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Gameplay Trailer

The first Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gameplay trailer was revealed during...

Wonder Woman Game
Wonder Woman Game Announced By DC and WB Games

Wonder Woman game will feature the iconic hero in a 3rd...

MultiVersus
MultiVersus brings Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny, and More

MultiVersus is bringing Shaggy, Harley Quinn, Jake, Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny,...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Billy Eddy Talks His new Book ‘Our New World of Adult Bullies’ – Interview

Lawyer, Mediator and Personality Expert Bill Eddy Provides a Six-Step Strategy...

Gary Morgenstein Talks ‘A Dugout to Peace’ the Final Installment of his Trilogy

Gary Morgenstein Talks About ‘A Dugout to Peace‘ the final installment...

Chris Clews Is ‘Raised on the 80s’ and Shares Those Life Lessons

Chris Clews was ‘Raised on the 80s‘ and Shares Those Life...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand Demo

The new ‘Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand‘ is ready to ship...

Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the ‘Good Flour’

Canadian Super Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the...

Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

The Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is now available to help...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...