March 3, 2015

Movie Review: Focus (2015)

Do you ever watch a movie and wonder just what the point is? I have. The most recent example of this sadly all too common phenomenon is Focus. It is a movie about con men and thieves and the focus needed to excel at this sneaky profession. Now, for a movie called Focus, it is surprisingly not. Yes, that's right, Focus is unfocused. It is a movie that just seems to sit there, not wanting to do much more than give Will Smith a starring role and try to convince us that Margot Robbie is the next big thing. I don't know, the movie failed to do much of anything for me and when it was over, I was happy for it.

Simply put, of you did not get it already, Focus is not a good movie. Yes, it is technically sound, it moves along and has that nice Hollywood sheen on it, all hoping to distract you like the pickpocket or the magician. If you keep looking at the pretty face over here, you won't notice the lack of substance over there. It almost works. It is very easy to get suckered in by Will Smith's easy going charisma and sheer presence, not to mention Margot Robbie's overall attractiveness and somewhat not quite everyday facial features.

To be suckered in by looks, charisma, and sheen (not Charlie) is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes all a movie needs to do is make you smile, distract you from the mundane of the everyday, and be nowhere but in that seat for a couple of hours. And sure, I have certainly seen much worse movies, but this felt like it was lazy, banking on charisma and star power (would be or actual) to carry it through.

Focus is split into who parts. The first part introduces us to Nicky (Smith), a master thief who runs a large group of other thieves, with whom he splits the take, and Jesse (Robbie), a pretty face who wants to learn the tricks of the trade. That is what goes on early on. She talks her way into the organization and learns the ropes from Nicky, with whom she has some electricity. He sees it too, but he cannot lose focus.

The second half of the film sees Nicky working for a race car team owner. The idea is to sell some plans to throw off the competition, but there is Jesse, and therein lies the complications. To tell more would give it away, but if you are like me. You will not ultimately care much about the final outcome as it slips further and further into the familiar. Ho-hum.

Seriously, Focus is an amorphous mass of a movie. It just sits there, hoping you like it, but never really trying. As the first segment of the movie played out, and got longer and longer, I kept wondering what the point was. It was going nowhere, fast. They gave us some lines about Nicky’s dad, about her desire to be a thief, and other random stuff, but none of it added up to anything.

Yes, technically sound, but terribly boring. There is only one thing I got out of the movie, and it has nothing to do with the movie. I can see Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, who she is cast to play in DC’s announced Suicide Squad movie. There is a touch of rasp in her laugh, she has a big smile and eyes that look right. Whether or not she will be good is another question, but I can see her in the role. That’s about it for Focus. Moving along….

Oh yeah, it might be interesting to note that Ben Affleck and Kristen Stewart were originally set to be the leads. Also, did anyone else think of Focus Features when they saw the title?

Not Recommended.

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