Focus is a slick and entertaining thriller. Despite some predictability, the film is sufficiently engaging.
Veteran con man Nicky takes on newcomer Jess as an intern. The pair get close, as Nicky attempts to pull off a series of cons and thefts. His relationship with Jess makes a future job more complicated…
Writer-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa had success with 2011’s Crazy, Stupid, Love. This feature is perhaps not quite as endearing as their last, but it is an entertaining film. Focus relies on the crux of not taking anything at face value. Thus, the audience is welcome to second guess every twist and turn in the narrative.
The main characters are not very compelling, but function suitably to keep the viewer engaged in the action. The relationship between Nicky and Jess is underpinned by the frailty of trust. At the beginning of Focus, viewers are positioned with Jess in observing and evaluating the sincerity of Nicky. Later on, the lines are more blurred.
The con at the centre of the film tries to keep the audience on their toes. he twists that appear throughout the film are a little predictable to those who have been paying attention. There are some show pieces in Focus that work quite well. The cons are explained in detail; viewers will no doubt spot a con, but perhaps not exactly how it has been executed. The need to unravel the sting means a fair bit of exposition. Likewise, conversations between Nicky and Jess are populated with indicators of what is to come.
Focus‘ production design offers a glossy image. There is little assaugement from the polished wealth on display. The soundtrack works well, if a little overused in some scenes. Will Smith offers a decent performance as Nicky, relying on charm to fill in the blanks of the character. Margot Robbie is not really stretched by the role of Jess.
Ultimately, Focus thinks it is cleverer than it actually is. Brush this aside, and the film is an enjoyable watch.