At one point in time, Will Smith was the biggest star on the planet. Lately, however, he has fallen on hard times at the box office. Smith tried to make his son a star (but he is clearly not at that level) which led him to the biggest disappointment of his career with After Earth. That's saying something considering Smith starred in the Wild Wild West and Winter's Tale. Now Smith is back playing a smooth criminal in Focus co-starring Margot Robbie.
The first thing Smith does right in Focus is ditch the nepotism and adds Margot Robbie as his novice partner in crime Jess. Smart move because the absolutely gorgeous Robbie is the next big thing when it comes to leading ladies in Hollywood. In Focus, Robbie proves she's here to stay, going one on one with Smith who, at the top of his game, can be a charisma monster. Smith stars as con-man criminal Nicky who can pull one over on even the most cautious individual. Odds are he will have taken the expensive watch right off your wrist while conning you for all you've got. Smith is perfect as the felon who can rope you into his scheme without you even knowing it. He fits the role of handsome charmer with a shady side and a good heart very well.
The first half of Focus is very interesting and fun as you watch Smith's pick-pocket, identity theft and long con business flourish during the Big Game in New Orleans. It's crazy to see what can be taken right under your nose when you lose focus and concentrate on the wrong thing. It's scary, but it also makes for a really cool first half with Smith's team working in perfect criminal harmony as they take advantage of the unsuspecting football fans. There's a scene in Focus in a stadium suite that will have you on the edge of your seat saying "Come on!" at the screen. It's a well-directed and acted scene that will leave you dumfounded.
The first half of Focus is a wild tale of petty theft that keeps your attention. The problem is the second half of the film cannot match the former. The long con Smith's Nicky takes on in Buenos Aires isn't nearly as entertaining. Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa try too hard to make Focus a love story in the second half which is a bad idea. Sure, Robbie is smoking hot and the ladies love Mr. Smith, but we came to see crime; not Kisses. The second half isn't bad. It just doesn't come close to how entertaining the beginning of the film is. Still, it's a good start to Smith reviving his career and another stepping stone to the top for Robbie.
Overall, I give Focus 2.75 out of 4 stars.
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