Saturday, March 14, 2015

Focus ★★

Image result for Focus movie poster

    For a film with the title of "Focus," there seems to be very little of it. I mean, here is a picture with an identity crisis. Is it a drama? Well, if it is, then it is an exceedingly poor one. Is it a dark comedy? I for one am not entirely sure, yet if it desires to partake in this designation, then it is certainly a bland rendition of the genre, as its crude humor and vulgar dialogue evoke anything but laughter.

    I guess the most fundamental question to ask would be: Is it worth watching? My answer would be a resounding no although I am sure that its vacuous entertainment value will not be lost on everyone.

    Nicky (Will Smith) is a seasoned con man who spends his time traveling the country with a small group of employees, roaming from city to city in an effort to pull off smaller cons, as we are told that the "big score" is only an illusion and quite unrealistic. Enter Jess (Margot Robbie), an amateur grifter who attempts to swindle Nicky by way of her sexual appeal. (Which is rather plentiful.) She ultimately fails, nevertheless, catching the eye of Nicky and subsequently persuading him to take her under his wing; after a period of "Con 101," the two hopelessly fall in love.

    The remainder of the picture relies heavily on the internal conflict surrounding Smith's character, as he was always taught not to indulge in the softer emotions. This leads to an inevitable break-up between the two lovers, which primarily sets the stage for further complication, as Nicky finds himself face-to-face with Jess three years later, after he takes his latest job in Buenos Aires.

    There are several sequences of heists which hinge on the prediction of human behavior and most of which are so absurd in their design that they would make the "Ocean" series of films quite proud. (The most notable consisting of numerous bets with a well-to-do businessman--at a championship football game--who apparently travels with millions of dollars in cash just for these occasions.) The highly sought after style of this genre does permeate the film, yet it is bogged down by a script that lacks any hint of imagination.

Image result for Focus film stills

    Will Smith, a prime example of a former personality actor who has completely eradicated his typecasting persona, is quite sincere in a lead role that suits his current interpretive method of acting, although much of the success can be attributed to the wonderful chemistry shared with his co-star. Margot Robbie is as beautiful as she is talented, and the young actress dominates the screen with her robust and quirky personality; an indicator that she can surely step into a more complex role than that of a trophy wife--a performance in which she indulged for "The Wolf of Wall Street." The humorous nature of their relationship strikes gold and becomes nothing short of definitive proof that an inter-racial couple can succeed in highlighting a box office production.

    Two noteworthy issues arise, however, when one takes it upon themselves to observe, instead of merely just seeing the picture. Firstly, it would seem as if the unification of the plot was thrown out the window in an attempt to actually come up with a story. Case in point: There is little chance that Smith's character would dismiss the young beauty in order to keep his dignity. (Most men would die for a shot with a gorgeous woman and millions of dollars in cash.) Are we to believe that our anti-hero is a man of morals? Hardly the circumstance I would say, considering he is a con man who steals, cheats, and relinquishes a portion of his good will each day for a chance to acquire wealth, among other things.  

    Secondly, and most important, is the nature of the characters themselves. Sure, they enliven the mood with their attitude toward one another, yet there is not much for the audience to latch onto. I cannot remember a film that provided such an emotional distance where the fate of the characters would seem negligible, and quite frankly, uninteresting.

    As a belligerent Smith parades around a nightclub, in what becomes the main deception of the film, one cannot help but to be reminded of a similar scenario in what was the actor's breakthrough television sitcom entitled "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." The young and charismatic personality of that Will Smith is something that this picture direly warranted, although I am sure Smith would never pine to relive such moments of his career. By the film's end, there was nothing left for me except a thought of a simpler past time, and one in which Smith's body of work can attest to; maturity is unavoidable.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't mind the interracial romance. I am white and have been happily married for almost 39 years to the same Puerto Rican woman. However, I didn't like that smith is 46 and Robbie is 24 and looks even younger. I know it's not supposed to mean anything in a Hollywood picture, but it did to me.