So I will say upfront that Will Smith is very good in "Focus" the new heist film that he stars in. What makes Will Smith so good to watch here is that he leaves his ego completely out of the equation. If you have seen enough Smith movies, you know what I am saying. In almost every Will Smith movie, there is that smug snark that he laces in his characters, there are several Will Smith-isms that only his characters would say. In fact, almost every character he has played seems cut from the same cloth. Not in "Focus," it seems for the first time in what feels like a lifetime, Smith is completely lost in his method and craft. There seems to be no hint of Smith's usual personality in his character, and if David Ayers can get the same type of acting out of Smith in "Suicide Squad," then I must be fully prepared to eat my words.
In speaking of "Suicide Squad," I must point out that Smith has impeccable chemistry with Margot Robbie, who will also be sharing the screen for that DC film. Robbie plays the exact type of femme fatal character that we have come to expect in movies like this, but that doesn't mean she does not do an excellent job bringing the character together. After seeing her work in this movie, as well as "The Wolf on Wall Street," I think Hollywood may have just gained a brand new leading lady that we can rely on for a great, well-rounded performance. In fact, the entire cast is very good in this movie. We have Rodrigo Santoro who played Xerxes in the "300" films and we also have Gerald McRaney from "House of Cards," both of whom deliver great performances in the movie.
Why am I not jumping for joy right now? Because "Focus" just feels like every other heist movie. Sure, its well-polished, I'll give the movie that. But "Focus" was just another heist film that could not get "just" out of its sentence.
Will Smith stars as Nicky, a long time con man who stops Jess (Robbie) in the middle of a heist of her own, because Nicky was able to find out all of her moves before she could pull them. He mentors her and then (of course) breaks his cardinal rule and falls in love with her (of course). He then leaves her after a big heist, with her broken heart in her hands (of course). Then they meet three years later during another big con being played out by Nicky. They rekindle their love (of course), the duped parties find out (of course) and we have a spine-tingling finale (of course) with somewhat of a twist (of course). There is not much in this movie that I didn't see coming, nothing that I couldn't predict from miles away. For a movie which is titled "Focus," there is very little to focus on.
But Xavier Gorbet's cinematography is groovy and the performances are better than they needed to be for a movie like this. It seems that directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have a great eye for talent and imagery, I just wish it all went somewhere more exciting. For what its worth, I suspect it will get the job done for you, or Smith will make you feel like it was all worth it.
FINAL GRADE: B