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Friday, April 17, 2015

Movie Review- Focus

Margot Robbie and Will Smith have more than just car trouble in Focus


Focus

Sometimes it's hard to distinguish the differences between heist films, and con artist films. If you think about it, most heist films need some form of connery (not Sean) to pull things off anyway. But of course, a con artist doesn't always pull a heist. Sometimes, they just con a single person or group. An example of that is of Will Smith in one of his first big screen roles, where he played a gay shyster in the film, Six Degrees of Separation. Some of those types of films takes a simple subject like the game of billiards and fills them with scheming characters looking to make a quick buck (The Hustler, Poolhall Junkies). Some go for the big heist (Ocean's Trilogy, Now You See Me). Some have a more dastardly plan (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Taking Lives). Some are light hearted and never get too serious (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Catch Me If You Can). And some are more grounded in reality (Boiler Room, The Wolf of Wall Street). If written right, a con/heist film can entertain with enough build up, misdirection, and charisma, that when the big moment happens, you're knocked out of your socks. Or, you just end up with a bunch of crappy Elvis impersonators with machine guns (3000 Miles to Graceland).
 
 

Movie Review For Focus

 
Smith's first starring role in what seems like a decade, is the film, Focus. A movie that adds a little flavor to the con artist/heist genre but, isn't original enough to reignite it either. In spite of its lack of breaking new ground, this movie is entertaining from start to finish. The most important element to this film, is the chemistry between Smith and Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad). If I didn't believe in their characters, I wouldn't believe in this movie. Even when they're conning each other, there's still a magnetism between them. I especially like when Smith is teaching Robbie the ropes of pick pocketing with demonstrations of misdirectional touching and psychology. Adrian Martinez (American Hustle) is this film's "go to" character for verbal and physical comedy. Whether he's making an inappropriate remark to/about Robbie or, just standing around with a blank expression, Martinez gives Focus some welcome energy. Gerald McRaney (The A-Team movie), is also good as a suspicious bodyguard to the second half's "bad guy", played by Rodrigo Santoro (300, 300: Rise of an Empire). While McRaney plays a good opposite to Smith, and stays true to his character throughout, Santoro is wasted as a one-note antagonist with no substance but, has a nice wardrobe. Television series' regular Brennan Brown (Person of Interest), has a few charming scenes that makes you wish for more. He reminds me a lot of Thomas Lennon (Reno 911).
 
Even though there's not a lot of characters in this film, and the "Focus" is almost entirely on Smith & Robbie, there isn't enough depth into the leads, other than what they're dealing with at the moment. Perhaps an extra ten minutes added to the hundred minute run time would've helped. Another problem, is that there's so much misdirection at times between the characters and the audience that, I don't know whether to clap or give the finger to the screen. Other than that, this movie is not as predictable as it appears to be at first, nor as it could have been altogether. The beautiful locations of New York City, New Orleans, and Buenos Aires, teamed up with the elegant sets and costume designs, pulls you into Focus' world of spoils, that's topped off with a chill soundtrack.
 
 

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Focus

 
The Good- The entire B.D. Wong (Jurassic Park) hustle segment. Tense, hilarious, clever, and so simple, that it had me smiling long afterwards. The apartment search scene with Smith, Robbie, and McRaney. It comes off as one thing, then you realize later, that it's about something entirely different. The auto crash prep scene; Though familiar, it was cool.
 
The Bad- Robbie's "3 years later" entrance is totally contrived and should have been better handled. Also, the entire pickpocket club. It becomes more and more unbelievable by stretching its boundaries.
 
The Ugly- The awkwardly quiet face to face between Smith and McRaney. Though short, it seemed to go on for five minutes! Half of me thought that they were going to make out. I think that their noses even touched a couple of times. Ew!
 
 

Final Thoughts on Focus

 
Focus is a decent scam artist movie that has fun moments and some believable performances. I would say that you should see this as a date movie but, it's coming out on home video soon after this review has been posted. One last thing; I dare you not to turn into a mouth breathing perv during Robbie's topless scene. Where's my apnea facemask?!
Rating- 7 out of 10
 

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