Movie Review: Will Smith’s latest movie loses Focus

Movie Review: Will Smith’s latest movie loses Focus
Kerr Street Cafe
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About the Author

Nicholas Olsen

Nicholas Olsen

Nicholas Olsen is a journalism graduate from Sheridan College. He specializes in Arts & Entertainment reporting, feature writing and film reviews. Twitter: @ChiefcoOne

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Enter a world of glitz, glamour, crafty dialogue and deceit. Beautiful women stroll along the beige alleys of Buenos Aires, Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith) sits idly in a dapper summer outfit — observing his crack team of thieves from a supercar while they swiftly snatch jewelry and wallets. This appears exciting — even screams movie magic — but in reality Smith’s latest picture is all surface level cadence with little intellectual or emotional groundwork to bind the story and characters. It loses focus.

As a heist film, Focus tries to capture the snappy dialogue, dazzling set pieces and old fashioned Hollywood charm reminiscent of smash hits like Ocean’s Eleven and American Hustle. Directing/writing duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa safely blend these elements with Will Smith’s unrelenting star power. Add Jess — played by Wolf of Wallstreet sensation, Margot Robbie — she’s Nicky’s understudy, part-time romantic interest and budding femme fatale.

Will Smith as con artist, Nicky Spurgeon. Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Will Smith as con artist, Nicky Spurgeon. Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

The two attractive con artists have a fling, one of them decides mixing love with a life of high-level crime is too dangerous and ends the relationship. Years later they meet again as rivals not lovers. They become entangled in a war between two rival race car owners, on opposite sides of the spectrum.

A game of who’s conning whom.

What follows is a montage of fast-talking thieves, speedy getaways and translucent characters that evaporate faster than the film’s plot.

It’s difficult to care about what’s happening on screen. We have the not-so-Fresh Prince of Bel Air, approaching middle age, phoning in a performance and barely casting a shadow on what appears to be his big comeback romp. Smith shows glimmers of whit and charm but misses the mark; his co-stars do the best they can. A particularly hilarious performance by BD Wong as an eccentric gambler comes to mind.

Focus redeems itself in the technical side of things. Benefiting from crisp, calm cinematography by Xavier Pérez Grobet. He plays on the naturally gorgeous  locations, lavish and Argentinean, comfy with his brooding close-ups and slow motion thievery. Flowing with aesthetic grandeur, abolishing the big budget shakiness that often plagues modern blockbusters.

BD Wong as Liyuan in Focus. Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

BD Wong as Liyuan in Focus. Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

The script takes center stage, and it’s where everything falls apart. Smith and Robbie’s back-and-fourth exchanges between the gigantic set pieces could have given some comedic breathing room, if any of it were believable. Shallow characters playing in shallow water, delivering icy lines to elicit excitement and let us into a dreamy crime world that ultimately equates to boredom.

Focus opened last night and is showing locally at Film.ca.

 

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