Focus is basically a chemistry test for Will Smith and Margot Robbie. And they obviously passed since they have been cast together in Suicide Squad as love interests, Deadshot and Harley Quinn. In Focus Will Smith plays Nicky, an accomplished con artist who takes on Jess (Margot Robbie) as his apprentice.
I am a huge Harley Quinn fan. Seriously, probably the biggest fan (I’m accumulating quite the collection these days). So the main reason I wanted to see Focus was to assess Margot Robbie’s acting skills and her chemistry with Will Smith. I’ve seen The Wolf of Wall Street and thought Margot was fine in that, but her character was unlikeable. So Focus is a better example of her talents. I’m glad to say that Margot steals the focus of the film (see what I did there?) in a very pleasant way. She’s the best part of an otherwise mostly lackluster film. She hits all the right notes and brings charm and charisma to an otherwise stereotypical role. Jess is a dumb blonde. She’s good at stealing a watch, but she’s still pretty dumb. But she is very funny and likeable. Margot seems like she will be a great fit for Harley.
Will Smith is also quite good in Focus. Normally I don’t like him. He has that classic movie star problem of always being Will Smith in his films instead of whatever character he should be playing. While the audience never forgets that this is Will Smith they’re watching, he makes his role believable. Nicky is smooth, funny, and always one step ahead.
The chemistry between the two leads is great and is what elevates this film slightly above mediocre. The plot is kind of dumb, especially in the second half. B.D. Wong has a great little role, it is a shame that he wasn’t in more of the film. The twists that come near the end of the film feel extremely anti-climactic. And the ‘villain’ (Rodrigo Santoro) is absolutely terrible. He just disappears! And he does absolutely nothing. Focus thinks that it is a lot smarter than it actually is. It looks beautiful though and Margot and Will make it an enjoyable ride while you’re watching. But Focus is easily forgotten after a few days. Hopefully Suicide Squad will be more memorable. 5.5/10