Sunday, March 1, 2015

Focus Review

For the longest time now, Will Smith has been one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood and one of my personal favorites. In my opinion one thing that makes him so great is not just his fantastic performances, but his careful selection of his movies. In fact, for the longest time I was able to say that I hadn't seen Will Smith give a bad performance. Even if the movie itself wasn't that good, I was always able to say that at least Will Smith did a good job in it. That ended with After Earth. Being that After Earth was his most recent performance, unless of course you count his very brief appearance in last year's Winter's Tale, I was looking for him to bounce back in his next role. I actually hadn't heard of Focus until last month, but I immediately felt that he would indeed bounce back. I'm happy to announce that he has indeed bounced back as both him and co-star Margot Robbie are fantastic in this movie. The movie itself ironically suffers a bit from a lack of focus, but overall I am happy to report that the movie is actually fairly entertaining, despite what you might hear from critics.

Focus does have a bit of an Ocean's Eleven vibe to it in that the protagonists in the movie definitely aren't doing things that they are supposed to be doing, but you are rooting for them to succeed anyways. In Ocean's Eleven they are robbing casinos. In Focus, Will Smith is a con man. Him and his company/group that he works with earn their living stealing people's watches, wallets, credit cards, jewelry, etc. Of course we are rooting for them to succeed, even though in real life if someone tried to steal my wallet, I'd want to punch them in the face. Anywho, going in to the movie I actually had an episode of the TV show LOST on my mind. It's season 2, episode 13 -- "The Long Con." In it Sawyer attempts to do his usual con to a girl, but she doesn't bite and actually becomes his con partner and lover for a long time. Long story short, the whole thing is just a really long con that he is pulling on her. It's a rather fascinating episode that I was hoping that Focus would follow because if it did it would be an excellent movie. Does it? Well, I'm not going to tell you. There's a lot of conning that goes on and a lot of it is in fact quite interesting.

The movie is kind of a tale of two movies. In the first half there is a lot of set up. Margot Robbie attempts to con Will Smith, but fails epically because he is a much better con man and soon they form this bond where he is helping her become better at conning. The two of them carry this movie rather well as they have very good chemistry. As I said, I love Will Smith as an actor and he is back to his normal self. He has a lot of whit in this with perfect timing. He's a very likable and interesting character with quite a bit of depth to him. Margot Robbie is great as well. What I really like about her is that she proves that you can have super gorgeous actresses in your movies that have amazing acting abilities. You don't need to go hire swimsuit models or Victoria's Secret models in order to get really attractive females in your movies. In fact, I get really annoyed when movies do that. Just go find people like Margot Robbie. Admittedly I have not yet seen The Wolf of Wall Street, but I hear she was great in that and she's also great in Focus. I'm really excited for her future because I know it's very bright as she's already secured roles like Harley Quinn in DC's Suicide Squad and Jane in Warner Bros.' live action Tarzan

Where this movie went wrong was in the second half of it. After a first half that was full of a lot of fun cons, there's a point where the tone of the movie shifts and they do a few things that have you wondering where the heck they are taking this. As I said earlier, they lose focus a bit, which is of course ironic given the title of the movie. I won't spoil the movie of course, but there's a few things that I had in mind that they could've done to make this a great movie. What they did instead was a bit underwhelming. However, I'm not going to be as harsh on this as other people have, because when they finally tied everything together, I was actually impressed. The ending is pretty great I thought. It almost made forgive the movie completely, but alas I still think there are several things that they could've done to make this even better.

Overall, I found myself rather entertained by Focus. Looking back on Will Smith's career, this won't be a movie that he'll really be remembered for, but I'm glad he made a return to form after that atrocious After Earth. Him and Margot Robbie make a great duo in this and even though there is a lack of focus, the movie does keep you guessing and has enough twists and turns that make for a very fun ride. There are some things that they could've done to make this even better, but if you are looking for a good time at the movies, I would definitely recommend that you give Focus a shot, especially if you are a fan of Will Smith and/or Margot Robbie as both are excellent in this movie. My grade for Focus is a 7.5/10. 

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