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‘Focus’ review: implausible trickery

 

 
Overview
 

Director: ,
 
Cast: , ,
 
Cinematographer:
 
Editor:
 
Composer:
 
Verdict
6.5


 

Positives


Amazing chemistry between Smith and Robbie. Very entertaining. Slick cinematography.

Negatives


Twists can be too ridiculous for some. Unauthentic.


Posted 28/02/2015 by

 
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Focus is a typical con movie, and Focus doesn’t pretend to be much more than that. It plays out his premise very well and Focus is very well-crafted and has a very slick look. In Will Smith and Margot Robbie you have two stars able of carying a movie. Smith and Robbie do even more than that, and they have real electric chemistry. It doesn’t hurt Smith and Robbie both have radiant charisma, and lots of it. Focus is not inventive for it’s subgenre, and it doesn’t pretend to be and it’s audience shouldn’t expect that from Focus. However, Focus makes up for some entertaining fun.

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The introduction between the two protagonists is a straight hoot, con man Nick (Will Smith) sees the con qualities in Jess (Margot Robbie) right away and tricks her into conning him. That sequence was very funny, with even some suggested edgy R-rated humor. Unfortunately the way the plot evolves from this point doesn’t let this kind of humor proceed. However it’s a pretty effective introduction sequence. What follows is Nick functioning as Jess’ mentor educating her to be a real con artist and let her enjoy his crew. They hit New Orleans where the Super Bowl is being held and there’s where they will pull of their next big scam.

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Like i said before Focus isn’t special or inventive but here we are witnessing a scene i never have seen play out as effective as Focus does. There’s a sequence Nick seems to gamble all their earnings from the scam away. Ficarra and Requa create such a tangible exciting scene with ingenious build-up that makes you sweat in your chair for quite some minutes. They capitalize on the psychological pressure of gambling and make the viewer forget all about the predictable nature of focus. Quite the outstanding sequence. Just for this scene you have to see Focus.

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After this sequence Nick and Jess have a fall out and they will go their own way. Then they accidentally (?) run to each other again and we will (if we didn’t already did the math) find out the how and why. Just like in the first half of the movie we see Smith and Robbie circle around each other and to be honest, it doesn’t get old. From this point a lot of mind games are played, even to a certain extent it gets really ridiculous. That doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable, because it really is and that’s the core business of these kind of movies, giving the viewer the feeling they can’t make sense of it anymore.

Will Smith’s glory days are past him. It doesn’t seem that long ago he was THE movie star and like Tom Cruise, his appearance made everything a success. The reserved nature of Nick suits him well, because to me, on personal level he is a lot like Nick. I wasn’t that sold on Robbie before, but she is like the female equivalent of Smith, she really knows how to ‘sell’ herself to the camera and her acting is constantly stellar. I will be surprised if she doesn’t become a big movie star in the near future.

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Focus goes all-in in it’s third act. It’s enjoyably ridiculous and the twists couldn’t be more nonsensical. However credibility is not on Focus’ priority list, and it really shouldn’t. McRaney and Santoro are very nice additions, just the comic relief of Martinez kind of rubbed me the wrong way. However there are some very funny moments (i enjoyed Smith’s Australians poke towards aussie Robbie). Xavier Grobet’s slick cinematography gives Focus just that needed extra bit of gleamy sophistication. Focus is proposterously entertaining with two movie stars that are really easy on the eyes and whoms performances aren’t that terrible to look at either.

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Cinematoracle

 
Cinematoracle
Breaking through cinema one movie at a time. Aesthetics above all, Antonioni, Malick & Godard are the G.O.A.T.s. I have a gargantuan soft spot for Vanessa Hudgens. Benoit Debie = THE cinematographer. Don't make war, make art.