Film review: Focus (15, 105 mins)

Focus: Will Smith as Nicky Spurgeon and Margot Robbie as Jess Barrett
Focus: Will Smith as Nicky Spurgeon and Margot Robbie as Jess Barrett
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Racket that loses its Focus

The con men and women who bluff, distract and double-cross in Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s light-fingered drama, operate by clearly defined rules.

They perform hundreds of petty thefts rather than one major heist because there is safety in volume, they refuse to steal from the vulnerable, and they never allow sentiment to cloud their cold-hearted, cash-oriented judgement.

“Love will get you killed in this racket,” grizzles one veteran of the hustle.

It’s surprising then that Ficarra and Requa ignore their character’s pithy advice and stake heavily on a fraught romance between their anti-hero, a consummate con man, and his sassy sex-bomb protégée.

The writer-directors’ gamble might have paid off if lead actors Will Smith and Margot Robbie were gifted snappier dialogue, and their bedroom scenes were choreographed with passion rather than softly-lit precision to kindle smouldering on-screen chemistry.

As it is, the biggest con in Focus is not the climactic swindle, which strenuously tests the bonds of honour between thieves, but the sizzle of that central relationship, which supposedly pushes both characters to the edge of reason.

Drama/Romance

Star rating: 5/10