By: Nick Salacki, Columnist
“Focus” is the story of a highly skilled, prosperous conman (Will Smith) who lives by one rule, “there is no room for heart in this game, it will get you killed.” But tensions run high as he struggles to keep focus after taking an eager young blonde (Margot Robbie) under his wing.
From the directing duo of John Requa and Glenn Ficarra that brought you such screenplays as “Bad News Bears” and “I Love You Phillip Morris” comes something totally different from what I have been used to. Therefore, going into this film I felt somewhat of an “anything-could-happen” vibe.
What I got from this film is that the directors attempted to re-create the classic “Bonnie and Clyde” relationship, a criminal love story if you will. With the comedic, sly character we’ve been dying to see Smith play again, and the young, hot and blonde but smarter than she looks type, this film is a mess.
What the directors failed at was to keep the story in line and in ‘focus’ (excuse the pun). With Nicky (Smith) as the leading con-man and a compulsive liar and manipulator, it was quite difficult for me to believe anything his character ever did. The same goes for co-star Jess (Robbie), as she was Nicky’s student in the conniving game they were playing.
The directing and writing duo would’ve succeeded with this screenplay, if they hadn’t kept the audience from losing their minds trying to figure out who’s conning who, who’s the liar and who’s the ultimate good guy to root for.
Out of all of this I can say that everything was perfect in one single scene. Toward the middle of the film, Nicky and Jess attend a football game at the New Orleans Superdome with box seat tickets. An interestingly comical betting game between Nicky and Liyuan (played by the entertaining B.D. Wong) takes over the entire crowd in the box. After this exciting scene, everything after just fell flat for me. What I saw in this scene should have embodied the rest of the movie. With that, and if the relationship between Nicky and Jess had been enhances, this out of focus flick could have been a clear hit. I give this film two and half out of five stars.