Let’s get this out of the way, shall we? Wow, Margot Robbie.
The white-hot actress not only creates chemistry while starring opposite Will Smith in the new release, “Focus”, but eclipses him and runs away with the whole movie. It’s more than a little ironic that the main poster for the film features a portrait of Smith with Robbie behind him, looking like a human accessory while at the same time reaching into his suit, possibly to divest him of his wallet. The poster might as well be a metaphor for her stealing the movie out from under him.
Both written and directed by John Sequa and Glenn Ficarra (I Love You Phillip Morris, Crazy Stupid Love), Focus is clearly inspired by the work of Elmore Leonard and films like Ocean’s Eleven. Smith is career con artist Nicky, who complicates his life by taking on a gorgeous ‘intern’ in his criminal enterprise, Jess (Robbie), quickly becoming involved with her physically and emotionally. After dropping her post-caper and seemingly breaking her heart, we fast forward three years to discover Nicky working some kind of con or deal with racing model Farhad (Adrian Martinez) only to find Jess is Farhad’s new flame, throwing all his plans, and his heart, into turmoil.
While cliches of the genre and an inconsistent screenplay keep Focus unworthy of truly high praise, it is stylishly filmed, has a number of great lines, and the leads have enough magnetism to keep our attention through the twists and turns of the storyline. Will Smith represents himself well here compared to his recent releases (After Earth, I’m looking at you) and there is some symmetry to bringing his game back in Focus, given his first starring role was in Six Degrees of Separation, which also a con flick. Still, it is Margot Robbie who turns Focus into yet another starring vehicle to put her acting talents and stunning, luminescent beauty on display. The scene with her in a wrap string bikini alone will make any hot-gal-loving date thank you for the eye candy. Gratefully, she has so much more to offer than just her physique. Robbie almost makes you forget some of the inconsistencies of character and story towards the end of the film, and certainly makes them forgivable.
For a late February release, Focus is certainly able to stand against the strange assortment on offer at the box office, and is a far better way to spend two hours than 50 Shades of Grey. Jess as a character trumps Ana a thousand times in the gumption department, while still showing a seductive vulnerability. Where Robbie is concerned, an actress that shows sophistication well beyond her 24 years, believe the hype. Looking for a little distraction on date night with your honey-pie these last frigid weeks of winter? You could do worse than sitting still for the solid entertainment and frothy brain twists in Focus.
3 out of 5 stars