Focus is a cool movie. It leads are extremely attractive people draped in casual looking expensive clothing shot against pristine backdrops exchanging smooth lines as the plot resolutely devolves itself from a class act into a mess of a finale.
Will Smith, does a great job playing the hardened con man with a soft centre. It’s a marvel that he doesn’t look like a cliche, but that’s the magic of what makes us love Mr Smith despite his not so recent failures critically and at the box office.
Margot Robbie, the stunning Australian who first stole our hearts on television and charmed audience worldwide with her performance on the Wolf of Wall Street matches up wonderfully to the task of the beautiful protégé and eventual romantic interest; like we all didn’t see that coming. Ms Robbie balances her massive sex appeal with comedic timing and tons and tons of charm which this movie never runs out of.
Nicki (Will Smith) is introduced to Jess (Margot Robbie) while grift-scouting her. She fails and in true expected fashion badgers Nick until he recruits her into his network of grifters for their biggest job of the year at the Super Bowl. Jess displays an aptitude for drawing focus away from her target to herself so she and her team can swipe watches, credit cards and the sort. They seem like a seamless, relatively, harmless venture, and Jess adapts very naturally to the operation and team.
Events give way to undoubtedly the best scene in the entire movie as a date between Nicki and Jess leads to Nicki going head to head with Liyuan Tse played by the wonderfully versatile BD Wong, a gambling addict with millions to spare. They begin with harmless two digit betting. It had previously been established that Nicki has a proclivity for excessive gambling. We also know Liyuan is crazy, and we are taken hostage into a high stakes tense battle of who has the bigger nerves and is willing to go further. So much further, we see Nick sink lower and lower into his demons as we watch a helpless Jess try to keep some composure in a room where all the chill is out the window. When this is remarkably resolved away, the filmmakers should have taken a hint and wrapped up things nicely while leaving the taste of tension and relief in the viewer’s mouths as they walk out smiling.
Sadly not. Cue a few expected twists and three years later Nick is playing perhaps the biggest role of his life. Rafael Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro) is a handsome dickish billionaire type guy. He owns a racing team and is prepared to do anything to win, including hiring a known grifter, Nicki to pose as a disgruntled salesman and sell some false technology to his competitors intended to give him a head start of sorts. Surprise, Jess happens to be on the same island and a love interest to the billionaire. Did we see that coming or what?
As usual there’s a few kerfuffle one majorly in the form of Rafel’s head of security, Owens. Gerald Macraney as Owens is perfectly gruff and has a memorable scene where he and Nicki exchange old versus new world sentiments which is worth paying some attention to.
The movie packs so many twists it eventually sets its own traps and has a hard time explaining away the inconsistencies which is a tragedy in itself for something that begun with so much promise. Sit back and enjoy though because at the heart of the movie are the performances which go a long way in easing the discomfort of these. The cast is so well timed and charming they make us forget the ill twists with a few good laughs and at the centre are Jess and Nicki, Nicki and Jess, whichever sounds cuter.
They are in some ways victims of themselves, Nicki allowing the young Jess to pierce his damaged armour and Jess allowing herself to be seduced by her older charming damaged mentor. Their story in many ways is like a quirky dance packed to the max by memorable chit chat and a supporting cast that is wholly approved of whose major role is to subtly remind Nicky and Jess why they truly are meant for each other.
Review is written by Fareeda. Connect with her on Twitter here.
Focus earns a Popcorn & Hotdog from us here at Sodas & Popcorn HQ. Check out our review of the much talked about 50 Shades of Grey movie.
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