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Genre Crime

Ever since Seven Pounds, it feels as though Will Smith has lost his mojo. Once known for his natural charisma and happy-go-lucky attitude, it's now difficult to see that x-factor and twinkle in his eye. Perhaps being contrasted with Tom Cruise changed his game plan as the exuberant Oscar-nominated actor found himself in what seems like a Hollywood identity crisis.

Smith's star has been left tarnished by underwhelming performances in Men in Black 3 and After Earth, with forgettable cameos in Anchorman 2 and Winter's Tale. Perhaps that's what living under scrutiny can do to an actor when his personal life becomes the topic of tabloid speculation. Either way, it's good to see him taking charge again with a performance that could sum up some of his recent experiences.

Will Smith plays Nicky, a veteran con man whose new scheme is compromised by the arrival of Jess, an old acquaintance. The confidence man role suits him and has some interesting parallels with the actor's career, allowing him to explore the affects of playing numerous characters and the callous numbness of pulling yet another con. He stars opposite the picture perfect, Margot Robbie, whose distracting performance in Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street has made her an it-girl.

Robbie's 'Helen of Troy' visage makes her seem "photoshopped", something that could cloud a reasonably strong performance, yet she's able to overcome this aspect even outshining Smith at some interchanges. Together, the handsome pair are able to turn heads... thanks to good chemistry and natural charm, making their sultry games almost as much fun as Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

Yet, this isn't a shoot 'em up movie, it's a slick crime caper as the two weave in and out of each other's clutches. Writer-directors, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, have a wide-ranging filmography, which includes: Bad Santa, I Love You Phillip Morris and Crazy, Stupid, Love. Their latest foray into crime drama is entertaining, leaning into its co-leads and allowing them to soak up the sultry, racy and sleek vibrations of Focus.

The film starts well, setting up the pair, creating allure through their dangerous sleight-of-hand crime, mind games and syndicate training. Then as one big twist lands, the cards are reshuffled and dealt again... this time 3 years later, functioning like an in-movie sequel. The second episode doesn't have the obvious novelty of the first, yet the relocation and brand new industry give it enough fuel to keep us guessing.

There's a definite lull as we make the transition and new characters come to the fore, yet it's still smart enough to stay one step ahead of us. Rodrigo Santoro and Gerald McRaney help re-focus the film as the next set up intensifies. Focus may not have the street smarts of an action blockbuster, but its suave enough to keep us entertained with reasonable pacing, stoking enough curiousity to keep us balancing precariously on-the-hook.

The end result is a fun, sexy and slick, yet almost forgettable movie in the same class as Knight and Day with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. The co-leads have enough sizzle to keep us invested in the characters through the twists-and-turns and the Ficarra/Requa pairing keep things fresh and fun, despite it having an air of familiarity. Focus is one of those easy-going movie experiences you can let wash over you... it's just interesting enough to keep you watching and just lightweight enough to rinse-and-repeat in a year or two.

The bottom line: Entertaining

6.00/10 ( 1 Vote )
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