Directors: John Requa and Glenn Ficara
Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro
Hollywood delivers at least two con-based movies a year. Most of them suck because they are either outdated or just plain dull. Will Smith’s new movie 'Focus' has managed to be a rare combination of both.
Will Smith in a still from 'Focus'. Pic/Santa Banta
Directed by John Requa and Glenn Ficara, who made 'Crazy Stupid Love', 'Focus' is an unfortunate name for this movie because it does not excel in the one thing the title promises. No one in the movie has any idea what to do in the film. There is no clear mandate of whether to deliver comedy, or a con game, or a seductive romance, or twists or exotic foreign locales. The film clumsily attempts all of those things and fails to give us a good look at any of those things.
Will Smith plays Nicky, a hugely talented con artist who prefers to get by with smaller cons at regular intervals than a massive raid like in the movies. He’s got a whole team, a huge network of members who run the operation from scratch. Everyone wants to learn from him, including the impossibly hot Jess (Margot Robbie) who accidentally stumbles upon him when she tries to con him out. From here on, everything in the movie is predictable from start to finish. The hero and the heroine meet, there is ‘witty’ back and forth between the two, the girl wants to learn from the master and join the team, but one falls for the other, leading to complications and then the inevitable heartbreak, until the next con and the happy ending ever after.
It doesn’t help that a con movie is supposed to keep you guessing yet you can guess what happens at the end of the film in the first 15 minutes. The sheer predictability of the movie is only matched by the utter banality on screen. Nothing in the film feels like it’s at stake — neither the characters nor the con jobs nor the audience watching it. The actors simply waltz around the ultra shiny sets in international locations as if on a paid vacation while mouthing terribly written dialogues. There is a barrage of twists to surprise you, but even those are so lame you wish you had been in the film and successfully fooled everyone in it. Smith, who is generally so likable, does little to salvage the scrappy material, as if still reeling from the aftershock of 'After Earth'. Perhaps, it’s time for Big Willie to take a break from films, go to Bel Air and stay with his uncle for a while.