Focus (II) (2015)
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I love heist movies. I love intricate con movies. I love crime movies and I'm sad to say this doesn't really come close to fitting anywhere between those genres best and brightest. Instead you're left feeling slightly amused, slightly tired, slightly relieved that it's over but kind of happy you saw it anyway - I dread to think how badly this movie would have been were it not for will smith.
If it was a light comedy in the vein of Oceans, The Sting, or The Italian Job then the tone of the film is completely wrong. The cast try to be light, fluffy and likable. There is a smattering of sexual tension, which seems very forced. But the characters aren't funny and you can't empathise with them. They steal from ordinary people and relish that fact, referring to victims as 'suckers'.
OK then, this must be a serious caper movie in the vein of The Grifters? The kind of caper movie where you're supposed to hate the lead characters and everyone comes to a sticky end? Well, no. The film just isn't bleak enough. Largely absent are gratuitous lashings of realistic violence; overly profane language and there are no dark overtones.
When we finally come to the consequence of the lead characters actions it's a weak conclusion. What did our character learn from his journey? Spiritual enlightenment? That crime doesn't pay? No, only that he should never lose 'focus'. Seriously, that's it!?
Don't ever get me started on the plot.
The whole movie is a gigantic mess. Avoid it at all costs.
The regular cons work best in the first half, when the movie is trying to be fun and entertaining. During the second half of the movie the plot deepens and works around character development. That's when Will Smith and Margot Robbie come to life, they are at their best when they are given more to work with and they keep the movie interesting. However the movie gets caught juggling too many cons which by the end of the movie may feel just a bit flat; but still make for an unexpected and enjoyable finale.
Definitely worth watching. PS. The directors did a good job showing the importance of FOCUS in keeping the camera Focused at the right place.
Focus is a better movie than I anticipated, actually that's a lie. Despite the cast my expectations were low, so I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't much of a stinker. The movie is entertaining, the story is somewhat interesting, but - of course there is a but - it could have been much better.
My main problem with Focus is that I wasn't engaged in the story, it wasn't because it's poorly written, it's not. I walked into the movie theater knowing that it was about con-artists - the marketing never hid it, if you've seen the trailer you know this. Anyway, knowing that it was about con artists and the tag-line is "Never loose Focus" I never really let my guard down and I didn't let myself believe what I was seeing. I was busy trying to figure out what the con was before it happened and that's where the movie kind of disappoint.
They did not play on the fact that the audience may be looking for clues as to what is going on. There are no real clues for the audience to find, there are very little things for you to think back on and say "That's right I saw that." They either show how it or explain it once it already happened. So if you're like me, looking for bread crumbs for you to figure out the con Focus hardly leaves any. I only got sucked into one scene and totally believed what they fed me for a little while. But much later when the big twist came I wasn't shock or surprised.
I probably would have had a better experience of the film if there were hidden clues leading up to the cons or if there was one character, who wasn't a con artist, that I could have trusted allowing me to let my guard down and get conned.
The leads, Will Smith and Margot Robbie, work well on screen. Will Smith is not his usual happy, upbeat, self in this movie but it suits the character. As for Margot Robbie, she plays the sex symbol cliché well without letting herself get trapped by it. She's more than a dumb, interchangeable pin up, she showed it in The Wolf Of Wall Street and also in interviews you quickly get that she knows how and when to wield the power than she has. She's talented and it shows in the movie.
Focus is a decent movie, it lacks refinement but it's entertaining, Smith is slowly getting back on top after the stinker that After Earth was.
It's not all bad though. The first thirty minutes is entertaining. However, I mean this in a, if you leave your brain at home way. Don't think too much and you may have a blast, but that's only if you never use your brain during a film. If you do, then there's the door, I suggest you walk through it.
Nicky is a con artist played blandly yet again by Will Smith, who has only ever been well cast in a film once – 'Men in Black'. He takes up Jess played by Margot Robbie mustering her acting talent and trying as hard as she did in 'The Wolf of Wall Street' to impress. She becomes his protégé, con artist and lover. They try to become romantically involved and it does not work out. Nicky eventually tracks her down to win back her affection and talent as a con artist.
Unfortunately, cracks in the film appear frequently, too large to brush aside and ignore. Consider the opening scene where Nicky tries to bed Jess. It works to his advantage and all of it happens according to his plan. But, we as an audience do not buy it. He barely knows the girl and not five minutes of chit chat has taken place, when they decide to get down to business. I know he is Will Smith and all. I'm sure he has women falling at his feet. But this seems rather far-fetched. Especially when this love turns out to be more than a one night stand and they are fully fledged romantically. The decisions that they partake seem rash, perhaps it was this lack of character development that led me to become distanced from the film in the process.
The script thinks it's very clever and is far too cock sure. This brings to mind another film about deception, trickery and cons. That made no sense at all in the slightest and was all too lacking when it came to character motivation and plausibility. 'Now You See Me'. Both of these films are firmly rooted in the nineties, with old jokes and plot twists so dumb it would have a toddler second guessing the events of the film. Another comparison to be made is that they both possess visual gleam. Take that away and they are just cheap parlour tricks to conceal their true identity.
If I am putting my points across to you again and again, then I'm sorry. But at least it parallels the repetitiveness of the film itself. What starts out as clever movements of characters who steal wallets and other personal belongings from random citizens grows tiresome quickly. Seen one con and you have seen them all. Don't get me going again about the romance that has been stamped on so that couples will flock to the cinema. Do we ever feel involved in their emotions? Do we feel for the characters? Do we in fact buy their romance at all for a second? The answer to all of them above is a definite no! The con clearly is on with 'Focus', not on the oblivious characters, but by and large on the audience themselves. How long can you watch the same old, same old trickery on screen that never changes? It drags and drags and drags. Gets old quickly see? Want a dull Will Smith? A flavourless story? Dumb plot twists that make no sense for a climax? You can have it all. Just do not expect witty dialogue, engaging scenes or interesting characters for that matter. Now excuse me while I burn all copies of the film.
The movie about con men is brilliant. The hustles and scams are clever and cleverly executed with excellent skill and tradecraft. Dramatically, the double-blinds and double- crosses are well executed. The players con their marks, one another and the audience with finesse and aplomb. The cinematography, choreography and editing are crisp. The reveals are plausible within the film's cosmos of reality.
The romantic comedy is not bad. One can understand and believe the attraction between the two characters. Will Smith's character is hunky, clever, confident, successful and wealthy. Margot Robbie's character is gorgeous, sexy, vulnerable, clever and charming. But the major plot points in this boy finds girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back subplot seem contrived, while the intriguing aspect of their relationship (How can two con artists with a history of deceiving one another learn to trust one another?) isn't explored in a satisfactory manner. Instead we get a breakup for reasons that are never explained, a repeated gag involving a wallet, and a massive coincidence that leads the audience to believe one of them has a hidden agenda involving the other. The relationship between them works best when they are conning one another, but it needs resolution.
Technically, the film is beautifully done. Cinematography, locations, wardrobe, make-up, editing, audio -- everything is polished. It's a movie that merits a second or third viewing, not only to see the cons played out, but also to appreciate some of the subtle foreshadowing.
Unfortunately, this is the case in Focus, a disjointed, needlessly convoluted misfire from directors Glenn Ficarra and John Request and a talented cast that includes Margot Robbie and Will Smith.
Focus starts relatively well, displaying many cool scenes of pickpocketing as Smith tries to lure Robbie into the business. However, soon all of this turns out to be a distraction of the real plot, that is the big time con, which is an absolute letdown.
There is plenty of filler in the middle, particularly a clever but ultimately pointless 20 minute scene at an American football match. While it is impressive to watch, it doesn't contribute anything to the plot.
Soon, they move on to the next big con which is completely unrelated to the last (that shows how useless the start was) full of ever more filler, more deception, more forced humour and more lame twists.
The third act is a disaster with the plot double or should I say, triple crossing itself like a spider's web on a spider's web on a spider's web. Nothing is clear and the explanations are given vaguely and lamely. There is more humour that doesn't work again in the end.
Will Smith is lazy as the main lead and Margot Robbie is functional as his love interest / sidekick. The side characters are all equally functional and forgettable.
Overall, Focus is a terrible con movie which cons the audience with it's good trailer and impressive cast, which can't save this convoluted mess from it's filler filled plot.
This movie made no sense. The romance in it made no emotional sense and was not set up properly. The twist was obvious, and made no sense. See instead: The Grifters, The Sting, House of Games, Oceans Eleven, The Spanish Prisoner, Film Flam Man, Match Stick Men.
Whoever in New Orleans agreed to have this shot there did not read the script. It portrays New Orleans as the leading American city in which to get your valuables jacked.
If you believe someone could pull your wedding ring off your finger without you noticing it, you will maybe like this film.
If you still insist on seeing this, check your logic at the door or be prepared to be angry. Don't say you weren't warned.
Will Smith is fantastic in this film, not being an over-exuberant character, which I feel some people were expecting in this film. His on screen relationship with Margot Robbie was very good, and I feel she has not got as much credit for this film as she deserves.
Some fantastic camera shots, and great locations add a little bit extra to this film.
I would advise not listening to reviews and going to see it for yourself and making the decision on your own. Enjoy!
Focus is a movie about con-artists. It doesn't try to follow the steps of "The Sting" or "Ocean's eleven", but it has the same goal, to confuse the audience on who is playing who... and here is where the problems are starting to arise...
The plot is paper thin and every con seems unnecessary and overcomplicated. There aren't that too many cons to begin with, but every one of them seems forced. A futile effort from the writers, to "amaze" the audience.
You see, to make the audience to expect a twist is basically a bad thing. Even the average viewer had, possibly, better twists in mind than those in "Focus". More plausible and more fun to watch. Here the tricks are too over-the-top in their execution to swallow, and overall unimpressive, leaving a bad aftertaste...
The movie looks colorful, but the acting is pale. Will Smith seems bored possibly because of an early realization that this movie won't work.
Overall: Not a satisfying movie, including the lukewarm ending. The twists you expecting from a con-artist's movie are there, but they are unclever and forced. Maybe its time to dust that DVD of "The Sting" from the selves...
Like both actors, but wouldn't bother with this one.
Nothing at all to remember but the scenes with Margot in bikinis.
Really impressed how movie distributors can go along trying to push some movie like that into the market.
Will Smith only resembles himself on this movie and Margot does what she can , be a bimbo girl.
This is a bad film and I do believe your enjoyment hinges even more on your expectations when going into it
Good actors, not acting that well here and that is all.
The problem is the script. It is just plain ... bad. It's predictable and relies on the same clichés throughout. The result is, it's disappointing and the end is, frankly, ridiculous. I'm all about suspending belief while watching a movie, but this is a 'con' movie, not a fantasy movie.
Overall, I would say that it's reasonable escapism and worth 105mins of your time. But, wait until you can either see it at a 'cheap' cinema or the DVD has been reduced - which probably won't take long.
In general, I don't like very much movies about criminals, since I don't find criminality to be very amusing. This movie, however, is too silly, too stupid, the absurd plot twists too ridiculous to offend. But it is really a waste of time to spend two hours of your life seeing this. And the movie is infused in a lot of what I find about US young urban contemporary culture to be abhorrent.
The last part of the movie was filmed in my hometown, Buenos Aires (gratuitously so, since it involves a con operation involving a Formula 1 race, which hasn't been set here for many years), but even that part I didn't find to be terribly interesting, as it's all shown with a tourist lens.
The only good scene in the movie here has Smith playing a game of escalating bets with a Chinese businessman (BD Wong).
Focus is an entertaining movie. All the set pieces in the film where Nicky & his team, con people in various ways are an absolute delight to watch. The scene at the football match is one of the most unpredictable sequences in the movie. I liked the fact that the makers of the film showed us the downsides of conning & not just the upsides of it. The highlight of the film is the electrifying chemistry between Will Smith & Margot Robbie. Smith & Robbie look very natural as an on screen couple & they seem to enjoy each other's company. They must have had a blast making this movie. Will Smith is brilliant as Nicky. Smith exudes charm & panache as the title character. Margot Robbie is great as Jess. Robbie looks gorgeous & delivers another good performance after her role in The Wolf of Wall Street. Adrian Martinez is hilarious as Farhad. Gerald McRaney is spectacular as Owens. Rodrigo Santoro is good as Garriga. BD Wong is impressive as Liyuan. The supporting characters are effective too. Focus is not a must watch in theaters. However, watch it if you are free & want to watch an awesome movie with firecracker chemistry between Will Smith & Margot Robbie.
I like Will Smith and have enjoyed many of his movies, but there are limitations. The most evident limitation is that he needs at least an average co-star as his counterpart. In other words, even his broad shoulders cannot carry the entire weight of a movie successfully. Mr. Smith, like most mortals, needs a modicum of assistance for success.
Mr. Smith is not entirely innocent is the disappointment that is Focus, but while lackluster, his performance is satisfactory and based on previous performances, his talent for clever and lusty scenes is unquestioned. The responsibility, for this cinematic failure, lies at the feet of sloppy writing and boring casting.
Margot Robbie's performance was uninspired. Her one dimensional, mean sorority girl persona, lacked passion. The bedroom scenes between Ms. Robbie and Mr. Smith were common, at best. It must be assumed that her inability to reach any depth of character was overlooked, because of standardized, unoriginal beauty.
Focus is not worth watching, save your money and your time.
the sound, the lighting (very Good), the supporting cast...all was very
good. The story (which should be thee MOST important thing) was very
average. The Chemistry between the leads was non-existent. It was obvious
that they were trying to create an obvious lack of heat. That killed the
film. Two usually very good actors, were forced to create an unusually
strained and uncomfortable relationship, that didn't ring true for a
second, on the big screen.