Focus review

>Writer-directors Ficarra and Requa last gave us the delightful Crazy Stupid Love, a most winning confection. Focus alas doesn't achieve the same agreeable result. It pairs a Hollywood superstar with a hot young actress – the 22-year age gap be damned – in a romantic con caper that misses the mark.

It all begins brightly enough though, with Smith's veteran huckster taking neophyte trickster Robbie under his wing, introducing her to his slick operation in stealing from numerous individuals with quickfire professionalism. A relationship develops between them with the first half culminating in a major sting that is played out with giddy showmanship. One happily goes along with the whole enterprise as the makers and personable cast adeptly wrap you round their collective finger.

Unfortunately the second half, set three years later and showing a different facet to the two leads' temperaments, doesn't prove so engaging. This time a major con involving a conniving entrepreneur (Santoro) in the rich racing circuit lacks the verve of the early scenes, with twist piling upon twist with ever diminishing returns. Smith and Robbie persuasively lifted the viewer into the preposterous proceedings of the first half with confident charm. Alas, the script doesn't do them justice in the latter half and one ceases to care about the machinations involved.

It all looks smart and stylish however, with both New Orleans and Buenos Aires depicted in in glossy light, the camerawork dexterously giving us pleasing sights. But this sort of lightfooted caper should send you out with a satisfied smile on your face. That it fails to do so is very disappointing. Focus is smooth enough but never achieves the fizzy high one would wish for.

Focus at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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