Focus 6.5/10

After a few recent missteps, Will Smith reemerges as charismatic and slick as his former years defined him in ‘Focus’. A film written and directed elegantly by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa.

Warner Bros states ‘Focus’ as: A veteran con man (Will Smith) is thrown off his game when his former lover and protege (Margot Robbie) unexpectedly appears and interferes with his latest — and very dangerous scheme.

Although frustrating at times, ‘Focus’ is uncommonly good for a February release. Filled with suspense and turns, ‘Focus’ certainly keeps you on the edge of your seat and will keep audiences continually guessing, unfortunately in this case, that isn’t always a great thing.

The first half of ‘Focus’ is close to flawless as it slickly delivers laughs and tense set pieces that more than pay off. You become invested in the world and the characters. The issue that plagues ‘Focus’ though, is the follow-through. The second half of the film feels genuinely forced in many areas. While undeniably fun, Focus is a bit frustrating when you get the sense of what “could have been.”

In many ways, ‘Focus’ is a double edge sword. The qualities that makes it great are also the qualities that hurt in the end. Focus depends on it’s twists and turns and for the most part, they are extremely impressive as well as effective. But at some point in the film you start to realize that ‘Focus’ is too deceptive for its own good. The film never lets the audience actually trust the movie itself and usually that’s a great element but for some reason in ‘Focus’, it felt forced.

Truth is, ‘Focus’ is the con man version of Will Smith’s 2005 hit “Hitch” except with less fulfillment. It’s slick, sly and altogether a very stylish experience. The issue is Focus lacks the depth of meaning that ‘Hitch’ brought. As the movie prolonges, its clear we’re not really “learning” anything, we just are along for the ride which isn’t a bad thing, but we never get a chance to actually care about many of these characters. Smith and Robbie perform admirably with what they are given, but it’s clear the ‘Focus’ lacks some polishing on basic third act story elements. Which is a wonder considering its gets the hard stuff so right. And that’s what makes the movie watching experience so disheartening.

By the end of viewing ‘Focus’ it was clear to me there is a fantastic movie here somewhere. The problem is it’s not on the screen. Maybe somewhere on the editing room floor. I wouldn’t not recommend ‘Focus’ though. Although too deceptive for its own good, it gives cinema-goers an enjoyable 2 hours to say the least. A smart, witty con movie that gets a good grade for its memorable moments and genuine effort.

6.5/10

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