Being shiny faced and impossibly gorgeous is apparently enough to glamourise a nasty life of petty crime. This morally reprehensible crime caper is predictable and dull, a replacement for genuine charisma found in blindingly slick, shiny surfaces, not least Will Smith and Margot Robbie’s foreheads. Smith plays Nicky, an experienced, well-off petty pickpocket whose lifestyle we are meant to idolise because he’s played by Will Smith. He becomes romantically involved with Jess (Margot Robbie) and trains her up for this supposedly glamorous life of steeling from innocent people who aren’t as good looking as they are, before he incongruously throws her by the wayside only for the pair to bump into each other again several years later and a bigger con to commence.
Focus not only has a screenplay devoid of charm and humour but it’s edited abysmally, with scenes which seem to extend eternally. There’s one incredibly long scene in which Nicky continually ups the stakes by betting on American football game against a superich businessman. It treats its audience as stupid, as clearly this level of illegal gambling and millions of dollars of cash on display would not get through security systems which don’t allow as much as a bottle of water brought into these arenas, but the eventual reveal for his con has no impact because of how tediously the whole thing is played out, not to mention that it ends up being the sort of illusionist/mentalist trick so well trodden and done so much more smartly elsewhere.
With After Earth finally questioning Will Smith’s bankability, you have the wonder what attracted him to such a poor screenplay especially as it’s now been a long time since he’s done a decent movie. Focus a humour vacuum, a cash cow as morally repugnant as it is a tedious. The only con being played here is on the (presumably) less attractive people paying for tickets.
Review by David Rank
Focus is out on 27th February in the UK and US. Running time 104 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).