The heist film genre is one that isn’t easy to pull off these days. The Oceans' movies worked well to piggyback off the style of the original Rat Pack; good looking people wearing great clothes and looking cool. However, what George Clooney and Brad Pitt re-established in 2001, directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa aimed to bring back one more time. With a light touch, serious levels of intensity, and great twists and turns Focus accomplishes just that and perhaps a little more.
Focus tells the story of career con-man, Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith), and resident newcomer to the criminal world, Jess Barrett (Margot Robbie). The two meet early on during a “job” and gain a level of mutual respect. Soon afterwards they part ways as Nicky goes off to do his annual job during the Superbowl. Unsurprisingly, Nicky and Jess reconnect and he adds her to his crew of associates. All the while, Nicky is falling head over heels for Jess, and the feelings appear to be mutual. Their love story adds an extra element to their dynamic that is pulled off quite well.
There are series of events that show off the skills of the two, and the cast of associates they work alongside. Farhad (Adrian Martinez) and Horst (Brennan Brown) are long time partners of Nicky’s and they work excellently as a source of levity. Speaking of levity, the comedic timing of all the actors is pretty spot on here. The movie shifts seamlessly from intensity to laugh out loud moments more than the trailers would suggest. Will Smith really hasn’t been this well received in a comedic capacity since the first Bad Boys film.
So like all heist films there is always the big job that has to be done to push our heroes to their limits, Focus is no exception. Nicky agrees to work a con for man named Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro). Garriga wants Nicky to sell a fake device to his competitors so that he can continue to have an advantage over them. The plan has some twists and turns, especially when Nicky discovers that Jess is currently with Garriga. Playing up the notion of choosing the con or the woman is a pretty standard trope, but Focus is able to put an interesting spin on it to keep our interest.
In conclusion, Focus is just plain fun and should definitely not be passed up. Will Smith makes a triumphant return after this last science fiction father/son flop. Smith is as cool as ever and reminds you of why he is considered one of the few big movie stars left. Margot Robbie is a surprisingly goofy, vulnerable, and balanced partner to Will Smith’s Nicky Spurgeon. The chemistry between the two is fantastic, they play back and forth with an ease that drives the film into a new space. Along with a great supporting cast, Focus might just be one of the sleeper hits of the year.
[easyreview title= "Review of Focus" cat1title="Jay's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="4.0" overall= false]