Focus is a mildly amusing con that’s made to get money from people who assumed that Will Smith is a safe bet and there’s a con that they can only wish they could pull, with a complimentary bikini shot in between. Only one of these is true.
This Ocean’s 11 style caper does have its moments. The sleight-of-hand tricks were amusing thanks to Apollo Robins who was hired as a consultant. The main characters, thanks to the actors who obviously had fun doing the film, are likable. As far as blockbusters go, it provides glossy entertainment.
However, a handful of Instagram worthy locations and a good-looking pair – one miscast and the other half his age – does not make a good movie.
The first part of the film is a protracted set-up to establish Nicky as the suave veteran con man and Jesse as his apprentice cum love interest.
Margot Robbie is a capable foil but her role doesn’t require much. Will Smith has this pained or smug detached look on his face. The rest of the cast is one-dimensional and indistinguishable from each other, except for the token funny sidekick.
There’s an entertaining betting contest between Nicky and Liyuan Tse as the film transitions into its lackluster second half. If the rest of the film had the same treatment Focus would have been miles better. Unfortunately, uneven writing doesn’t afford it.
The second part rolls in, drags on, and breezes through its twists and turns. After already spending too much time on the back story, the movie milks its leads’ combined charisma for what its worth and forgets the big con, which is supposed to be the main narrative.
The audience is left to settle with an exposition dump that doubles as a reveal on what’s really been happening. After what feels like a 5-minute confrontation, the film ends with an uneventful conclusion.
Focus spends too much on flashy tricks and loses sight of what it’s supposed to do. It’s slick and understandably shallow but misses the point of its own premise.
Focus has a charming cast stuck in an underwhelming con with an aimless story and uneven plot.