AM At The Movies: ‘Focus’

Above: Will Smith and Margot Robbies star in 'Focus'
Above: Will Smith and Margot Robbies star in 'Focus'

Whether Will Smith is back back remains up for debate, but coming off a handful of poor showings, there is no denying that his latest, Focus, is certainly a much better performance and far superior film to his previous outing, After Earth.

An old school con-man movie, Focus is a quality popcorn flick that captures your interest immediately and holds it throughout.

Smith stars as Nicky Spurgeon, the leader of a ring of thieves and con artists that drop into cities during major events, run their rackets, make their money and move on. They’re grabbing everything they can – watches, credit cards, purses and jewelry – in every way imaginable.

Margot Robbie co-stars with Smith as Jess, a mediocre hand that Nicky takes under his wing and teaches the hustle. As much as Smith puts up a solid performance with the charisma that made him such a bankable star during his Bad Boys II/Hitch/Pursuit of Happyness heyday, it’s Robbie that jumps off the screen.

There is something about the Wolf of Wall Street actress that stands out and it’s more than just the fact that she’s beautiful, although she is absolutely gorgeous. She’s got a magnetism to her that will make her a massive star down the road – think Cameron Diaz with better acting chops and less “let me show you how goofy I am” moments.

She and Smith have an obvious chemistry on screen and in their roles, it becomes extra entertaining because you never know if they’re characters are genuinely into each other or running game.

What separates Focus from other relatively recent movies about cons like Confidence is that it keeps the story tight and everyone knows where he or she stands in the pecking order.

This is Smith’s movie with Robbie next in line and not only do they deliver strong performances that make them stand out, but none of the supporting cast is trying to upstage them either. Confidence had potential and was a watchable flick, but there were a lot of people trying to make sure they’re memorable, rather than staying in their lane.

That doesn’t happen in Focus and the film is better for it. The supporting cast are strong, but not over-the-top, Smith is as charming as ever and Robbie runs parallel with him the entire way.

Hopefully, this really is the start of a Will Smith resurgence because “The Fresh Prince” is far better than some of the sour notes he’s struck in recent years and to have a good performance like this only to return to making movies like Seven Pounds would be a waste of his talent.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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