Banner: RatPac – Dune Entertainment, Di Novi Pictures, Kramer & Sigman Films, Overbrook Entertainment & Zaftig Films
Producer: Denise Di Novi
Director: Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro, Gerald McRaney, B. D. Wong, Robert Taylor, Dominic Fumusa, Brennan Brown, Griff Furst, Adrian Martinez & Alfred Tumbley
Music: Nick Urata
Director duo Glenn Ficarra & John Requa in their latest outing ‘Focus’ seems to be just a bit out of focus as while mixing the recipe of con-game with love dose they got really carried away by the inspirational game from George Roy Hill’s ‘The Sting’ or even Stephen Frears ‘The Grifters’. Not to forget other “Heist” movies like ‘Out Of Sight’ & ‘Ocean’s 11’. But the over all presentation of good actors, eye pleasing locales (New Orlean & Buenos Aires), some smart twists & turns et al are really note worthy & impressive.
So ‘Focus’ is an American romantic dark comedy film in which a seasoned con – man Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith) goes to a nightclub, where an inexperienced grifter, Jess Barrett (Margot Robbie), attempts to seduce him by pretending that they’ve been caught by her jealous husband, in order to con Nicky. Seeing through their deception, Nicky exposes their plan and advises them never to lose focus when faced with unexpected situations before leaving. Jess finds him in another nightclub a few days later and convinces Nicky to become her mentor by detailing all information she acquired on him, including that his father, Bucky Spurgeon, was forced to shoot Nicky’s grandfather after a con game gone wrong. Nick takes Jess to New Orleans, where she performs a series of minor cons as a test. After proving her worth, Jess is introduced to Nicky’s crew, and soon Nicky & Jess develop a romantic relationship, upsetting Nicky, who was taught by his father to never become emotionally involved with anyone in their line of business. At a professional football championship game at the Mercedes -Benz Superdome, Nicky & Jess con a compulsive gambler, Liyuan Tse (B. D. Wong) out of all his money. Afterwards, Nicky gives Jess her share but reluctantly sends her away, leaving her heartbroken. 3 years later, Nicky is in Buenos Aires, working for a billionaire motorsport team owner Rafael Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro). Garriga needs to beat a team headed by Australian businessman McEwen (Robert Taylor) to win the championship. Nicky will pretend to be a disgruntled technician on Garriga’s team, and will sell a bogus component to McEwen, slowing their car down during the race. At a pre -race party, Nicky runs into Jess, who is now Garriga’s girlfriend. Nicky has a convincing fight with Garriga in public, and is recruited by McEwen to provide the component. Nicky begins pursuing Jess again, and they eventually rekindle their relationship. The head of Garriga’s security entourage, Owens (Gerald McRaney), is suspicious and follows Nicky & Jess. Nicky delivers the component to McEwen for 3 million euros, but also sells it to the other teams for similar amounts. While he is waiting for Jess at his hotel room, he receives a text saying that he is exposed, and should leave immediately. Nicky & Jess attempt to return to the United States together. However, they are caught by Garriga’s men and taken to an abandoned warehouse, where Nicky pleads for Jess’ life, and is beaten by Garriga. Jess reveals she was trying to seduce Garriga in order to steal his valuable watch, and Owens then shoots Nicky in the chest, causing a horrified Garriga to leave. Owens then reveals himself to be Nicky’s father, Bucky, and assures Jess that he avoided any major arteries.
Bucky drives Nicky & Jess to the hospital to treat Nicky’s punctured lung and departs with Nicky’s money, as a reminder of the consequences of losing focus. After he leaves, Jess reveals that she had snatched Garriga’s watch before he left the warehouse, and Nicky & Jess then go into the hospital together.
Mostly solo directors or even co – directors plan a sequel of a movie once it acquires the box office crown but the director duo Glenn Ficarra & John Requa seems to have set their focus, the other way round as ‘Focus’ is appears garbed more like a prequel.
That apart they had too battle it out with the indian censor board too who indeed allowed scores of cuss words & raunchy innuendo, as well as several sex scenes, though they’re limited to kissing and shots of bare shoulders, backs, and the sides of breasts but no frontal nudity. As we are all morally conscious indians you know! Kudos & bouquets of appreciation to the director duo Glenn Ficarra & John Requa, if only their script did not display loopholes galore, in tandem with their technical team Xavier Pérez Grobet (Cinematographer), Jan Kovac (Editor), Nick Urata (Music) et al for making the movie racy & enjoyable to some extent.
Performance wise, for a change, ‘Focus’ focuses on each & every characters galore. So in brief their individual act can be outlined: Will Smith as Nicky Spurgeon – Outstanding Act, Margot Robbie as Jess Barrett – Brilliantly Sensuous, Rodrigo Santoro as Garriga – Charming, Gerald McRaney as Bucky Spurgeon / Owens – Perfection Personified, B. D. Wong as Liyuan Tse, Extremely Funny, Robert Taylor as McEwen – OK, Dominic Fumusa as Jared – Passable, Brennan Brown as Horst – Adequate, Griff Furst as Gareth – Noteworthy, Adrian Martinez as Farhad – Hilariously Comical & Alfred Tumbley as Dogs – Wicked.
Tailpiece: Worth watching without loosing your focus on the entire proceedings.