It’s hard to believe that at one time Will Smith was a blockbuster action star. What got him to that level of status was his charm and charisma. Whether he was killing aliens in “Independence Day” or policing them in “Men in Black,” for a while, he owned the summer blockbuster.

Then there was a period where he started to lose his touch until he was no longer the figure that he used to be. To me “After Earth” was a career-defining low for Will, but with “Focus,” it looks like he may have learned from his mistakes in the past. If you think you have Nicky [Will Smith] fooled for one second by a cheap scam, then you’re sadly mistaken. When it comes to the con game, he knows all the ins and outs. Jess [Margot Robbie] finds this out the hard way. Interested in playing on his level, she attaches herself to Nicky to learn the business firsthand. Jess gets on quick but, over time, she begins to realize just how dangerously the game is played, especially when both her and Nicky get involved with Garria [Rodrigo Santoro], a billionaire with a scheme.

Scott McPhillips / Equinox Staff

Scott McPhillips / Equinox Staff

I can get behind a con movie especially if Will Smith is playing the Will Smith that we all used to know and love. Seeing him go back to what made him famous to begin with makes me wonder why he never did it earlier. He plays the kind of guy who can walk into a bar and attract the most beautiful woman there, case in point Margot Robbie.

Robbie plays the character that the audience is supposed to relate to as she learns the ropes. Once they get on the same level, and even before, she can hold her own with Will Smith. These two have good chemistry, which is one of the main reasons why “Focus” is at least watchable.

As good as the two leads were, without them there would be nothing. For a film that’s called “Focus,” the film itself doesn’t know how to stay focused on one coherent story. The first half of the film was great because it was interesting to see Robbie learn the game. But towards the second half it feels like everything is dropped for a disappointing ending. Really, that half feels more like a tired sequel to a successful film with some of the most unbelievably convenient plot details so far this year.

For a while, “Focus” rode this high that could have led to such a great ending. After a scene involving high stakes gambling at a football game, the tension and the story never stops just to make way for a new one and it doesn’t work. It’s at this point that I believed that the film itself was confused and didn’t know what it wanted to be or where to go next.

That being said, it’s a well-acted and a well-shot film from start to finish. If the screenplay was a little tighter, this could have been a fun con movie. As it stands, while Smith and Robbie are great, the movie around them isn’t and for that reason “Focus” seems like a better rental than anything else.

Rating: C+

Matt Bilodeau can be contacted at

Share and Enjoy !