Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Will Smith and Margot Robbie

Rated: R for language, some sexual content and brief violence.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: February 27, 2015 Released by: Warner Brothers

A new caper movie from Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Crazy, Stupid, Love, I Love You Phillip Morris) is too uneven and blunted to carry a significant kick to it. Especially in motion pictures ranging from the recent American Hustle back to The Sting, for example, that was more substantial in its insidious pilferage. This one's closer (at least in effect) to the more erudite, impulsive Duplicity which featured Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, as well as Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson.

But, Focus  it has the intriguing pairing of Will Smith (Winter's Tale, Men In Black 3) and the voluptuous Margot Robbie (About Time, The Wolf of Wall Street) in what appears to be smooth and slick on-screen but is futile when it comes to the maneuvering of its lead character as finally more benign than necessary.

Smith's Nicky is a third-generation voluble presumably insensitive scammer with Robbie's instinctively gifted Jess determined to learn the business from him in The Big Easy before a major sporting event. He lets her join his posse to defraud foolish fans in the streets prior to a larger, more precarious venture.

An alleviating, if discouraging script from the directing collaborators (who wrote the dark gratuitous that was Bad Santa) posits an elusive, if easy and able-bodied Nicky into a Formula One racket in the second largest metropolitan area in SouthAmerica with the effusive Jess associating with him three years hence. The more prevalent back-up parts belong to Rodrigo Santoro (300: Rise of an Empire) as a racing proprietor and Gerald McRaney (The Best of Me and Django Unchained) as his leading bruiser.

The slapdash functioning between Nicky and Jess is critical to the filmmakers, probably more than the shifts or certain ungainly interactions as many are following their own iniquitous ways gravitating to an unforeseen murderous culmination. Some will be into the gaming mania at a skybox or the scurry of a notable celebration which are notable tableau.

Yet, Focus (also the title of a 2001drama starring William H. Macy and Laura Dern surrounding mistaken identity set during WW II) is too glib and incongruous in navigating between adventure, drama and romance to really ingratiate beyond an early amusing manner about it's fleecing. How the intermittent funny and revelatory story doesn't earn relevance and the speciousness of Smith's character (at least more compelling than "After Earth" but far less so than The Pursuit of Happyness with son Jaden) and even Robbie's derails the honesty and color of a more frisky, cagey cinematic lark.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Dayra Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Focus  B   B   C   D               C   C+ 

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