Still in cinemas, I was able to catch a screening of Focus, a film that mixes crime, romance, drama and dark humour together to create a mildly entertaining movie, starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie, and directed by Glen Ficarra and John Requa.
If you’ve been paying attention to DC Comics’ Movie Casting Announcement news, you will almost certainly have heard that Will Smith is slated to play Deadshot and Margot Robbie to play Harley Quinn in David Ayer’s upcoming Suicide Squad. Given Ayer’s impressive track record with Fury and End of Watch, and Smith can nine times out of ten make a film watchable just by being in it, I thought I’d give Focus a shot to see whether the casting of Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn was something to get excited about (She’s also in Wolf of Wall Street, but not as larger role as she is here) and judging by her performance in this movie, it just might be.
Focus itself is a fairly standard crime movie, despite the impressive cast. Veteran con-man Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith) ends up recruiting an inexperienced Grifter, Jess Berrett (Margot Robbie), after she attempts to best him. Nicky takes Jess under his wing and trains her, and the two end up becoming a couple despite the fact that Nicky was taught by his father not to get romantically involved. When Nicky ends up parting ways with Jess, she returns, now an experienced con artist, during Nicky’s latest scheme and could potentially throw everything into chaos. Whilst offering nothing original and nothing truly memorable in terms of plot, Focus still surprisingly finds itself being entertaining for its 105 minute running time, playing to the strength of both actors.
The characters themselves are mostly forgettable but the main actors pull off a great performance that’s got plenty of chemistry between them both. Margot Robbie really steals the scene as Jess, and Will Smith essentially just plays Will Smith, as fun, calm and experienced as ever. The rest of the cast isn’t all that notable, with Robbie and Smith really being the standouts here. Person of Interest fans will also recognise Brennan Brown, (who played FBI Agent Donnelly in that, and Horst here), in a side-role but aside from that there isn’t anyone in the secondary cast who I was overly familiar with.
There’s some great set-pieces here that really work, with co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa pulling off a beautifully looking film with some effective, entrancing visuals. The cinematography manages to really appeal and when combined with a pretty awesome soundtrack, featuring The Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil, the movie is fun if you go in not expecting anything too serious.
The comedy part of the movie might not be its strongest, but when it allows the two lead actors to do their thing, Focus works. It’s fun, well directed and will keep you entertained for the most part, but probably isn’t something that I’d watch again. I can’t wait to see what Smith and Robbie can bring to the table in Suicide Squad now (along with the other A-List cast, of course), which should be a very awesome movie indeed.