Monday, 9 March 2015

Focus


Schmoozing his way back onto the big screen, Will Smith once again exudes his trademark charm and charisma from every pore, in this excessively gaudy crime caper. Suave veteran con-man Nicky Spurgeon (Smith) is the modern day Fagin, running a sprawling empire of crafty minded grifters. When novice hustler Jess (Margot Robbie) feebly fails at attempting to honey-trap the master trickster, Nicky reluctantly offers to show the alluring trainee a flirtatiously fail safe guide to fruitful pick-pocketing. Directing duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris, Crazy, Stupid, Love) offer sumptuous perfume-ad style in exotically opulent locations, but end up heedlessly entangling themselves in byzantine knots with incessant double-crossing.

Ending on acrimonious terms after their prosperous New Orleans mission, the seasoned swindler and ambitious femme fatale re-collide on the glitzy party scene of Buenos Aires. In a realm of endless champagne, flashy Formula One cars and swanky hotels, it is hard to know who to trust in this con-man escapade. The veracious chemistry between Smith and Robbie is assuredly infectious but slowly gets adrift amongst the multiple wisecracks and inane 'banter'. With sharp suits and tinted shades all round, Adrian Martinez's comically endearing sidekick Farhad brings a few welcome chuckles to the proceedings.

The absurd plot twists and rug-pulls aplenty become hastily exasperating and with this vehicle being pushed as Smith's somewhat moderate comeback, his softly muttered phrases quickly diminish any dramatic core. Schlocky dialogue and aimless emotional direction all add to multitude of gimmicky errors, which considering the $100 million budget is wholly incongruous. When you scratch the surface of Focus there's just more aesthetic surface underneath, it's a glossily superficial con film whose ultimate trick is lifting the £10+ from your wallet when you're standing in front of the cinema kiosk.    

★★
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1 comment

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