Nicky, a veteran con artist, takes a novice named Jess under his wing. While Nicky teaches Jess the tricks of the trade, the pair become romantically involved; but, when Jess gets uncomfortably close, Nicky ends their relationship. Three years later, Nicky is in Buenos Aires working a very dangerous scheme when Jess -- now an accomplished femme fatale -- unexpectedly shows up. Her appearance throws Nicky for a loop at a time when he cannot afford to be off his game.
"Focus" blends two different movies in roughly equal measure. One is a movie about con men, scam artists and hustlers, in the tradition of "The Sting," "Ocean's Eleven," "House of Games" and "Shade." The second movie is a romantic comedy between two people who are strongly attracted to one another, but who cannot and do not trust each other. 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.
> Kicked off well, kept the momentum, but the end was... It's a Will Smith's movie, anyway, I was going to watch it, but when the initial cast dropped out, followed by a couple more, simply intrigued me. Actually, I enjoyed the film, but did not like it because of the bad ending. It was a good twist, except the shooting thing. An example how a tiny part can decide the entire movie's fate. Well written crime-drama, with a touch of romance. After all the obstacles, the final cast were at their best. Heist movies always excite me because of the involvement of the tricks and thrills. Nicky, a con artist who recruits a small time thief, Jess to work with his gang. When the job and the romance advancing smoothly, an unexpected split happens. So the years passed, when they meet again, what comes is the crux of the remaining story. The first half let us know what kind of character the Nicky is. His overwhelmed dedication for his undertaking and his reliable team's the focus. Overall, it was the best portion of the movie, and the next half goes for the giant kill, but lacks enthusiasm. More like a revenge or jealousy type narration, but only until reaching the climax where it tries being a very clever and happen all the things at a brisk pace. The film was better than I thought, after learning it was criticised, mostly very badly. Would have been a bit better if the writing was cautious for the crucial parts. Importantly, like I said the end part. 'Yes' for the entertainment it provided and 'no' for one of the best products of the year, 6½/10