"Focus" Review

Will Smith proves “After Earth” was a bump in his career with “Focus”. Written and directed by Gleen Ficarra and John Requa, the film is a well executed caper comedy.  It's sure to keep you entertained this weekend!

Nicky (Will Smith) is a veteran con man. He meets Jess (Margot Robbie) after she tries to play him in a “bring you back to the hotel room so my husband can bust in and take your wallet” con in New York. Knowing he’s being played, he turns the tables on them and gives Jess a quick tutorial in the art of lifting before leaving. The key for the film to work is the chemistry between its main characters, and there’s enough to teach a high school class! (That was a little lame, but there is!) Their brief lesson in the snow is light hearted and playfully flirtatious, but continues throughout the rest of the film. 

We then find ourselves in New Orleans for a Super Bowl. It’s the greatest place for a heist according to Nicky. With a team of thirty people in on the action, Jess joins the group after tracking Nicky down from New York. She fits in nicely with the crew in a beautifully choreographed sequence in the bustling French Quarters in which they lifts wallets, purses, rings, and more. A romance blossoms between Nicky and Jess, but the best part about it is as a viewer you constantly question what’s real. Is their “love” real? Is Jess playing Nicky or Nicky playing Jess? 

The entire crew disperses to ensure nothing is traced. A few years after New Orleans, the two meet again as Jess descends down the stairs straight out of a classic film, into the middle of Nicky’s in progress con and back into his life. From there the film gets thick with distrust. You never know who is playing who, but not in such a way that it’s confusing or distracting. It keeps you on your toes in an entertaining way.

The camera work is great in the film. Occasionally the frame is in and out of focus, but more specifically the directors lead our eyes to what they want us to see. For instance, in one scene Jess walks into a designer store. We see her walking straight toward the camera, the camera dollies left, and we realize we’ve been watching her through a mirror as she walks past the camera on the left. It’s tricks like this that make it hard to trust our eyes as well as the story unfolding on the screen. 

“Focus” is a sexy, fun ride that will keep you guessing. Will Smith still has it, and it proves that Margot Robbie is more than just the objectified, pretty woman  that “The Wolf of Wall Street” made her out to be. If you want something to keep your attention off of your busy work week this weekend, “Focus” is the movie to do it! 

Rating: B

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.