Will Smith, Focus

Movie Review: Focus (2015) *Will Smith is Will Smith Again!*

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Focus
The most remarkable thing about After Earth, Will Smith’s last movie (unless you count the three seconds he was in Winter’s Tale), was that somehow M. Night Shaymalan had completely neutered him of all personality.  Will Smith may well be the most charismatic, personable person in the SOLAR SYSTEM.  He has likability fountaining out of his ears.  So to manage to turn him into someone completely devoid of an ounce of personality may be the low point (or high point if he was really TRYING to do it) of Shaymalan’s baffling career.  Whatever else you want to say about Focus, it is bursting with Will Smithiness.Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Focus

In Focus, Will Smith plays the leader of a very organized, very disciplined team of con men.  They don’t look to take spectacular scores; they look for steady work just below law enforcement’s radar.  By degrees, this strategy has quietly turned them into possibly the most effective group in the game.

It is then with great amusement then that he endures being conned by neophyte Margot Robbie (who does a great job in this film, which bodes well for Tarzan, where she’s playing Jane; and Suicide Squad where she’s playing Harley Quinn).  Something about Robbie’s sloppy, yet promising technique intrigues Smith and he adds her to his crew.

Margot Robbie, Focus

Most of the fun in a con (Ocean’s 11, The Sting, etc.) is in not knowing exactly how the con is working.  With that in mind, my remainder of the plot summary is that Smith’s weaknesses cause a huge problem at the gang’s Super Bowl con and we jump forward in time three years.  I’m not going to for a second, say that Focus is in the same league as the con films I compared it to; in fact, the writing is pretty thin.  The movie gets by on a few clever turns and being propped up by Smith and Robbie’s chemistry and personality.

Someone needs to seriously challenge Will Smith, because he’s skating.  He could do movies like this where he essentially plays Will Smith for the rest of his career and make enough bank to have a Scrooge McDuck-level money bin, but he’ll never be considered a great actor.  He’s not even considered a serious actor anymore.  The younger Smith who got critical praise for Six Degrees of Separation, Ali and brought in trucks of cash with Men in Black and Independence Day is miles removed from where Will Smith is in his career today.  If he doesn’t make a serious mark with a film in the next few years, he’s going to find returning to Oscar-caliber parts impossible and that he’s locked into just being Will Smith in movies as opposed to slumming it like he has been.

Will Smith, Focus

I liked Focus.  It should’ve been funnier and it should’ve been more clever, but compared to the offal 2015 has produced so far, this is gold.  My biggest concern, walking away from the theater, is that Will Smith’s laziness (for lack of a better word) may end up costing him the real level of success of which he’s capable.

One thought on “Movie Review: Focus (2015) *Will Smith is Will Smith Again!*”

  1. I don’t think he’s coming back, at least not like before. All celebs have that period where they can do no wrong, and while it’s possible to have enormous successes after that point, they’re through walking on water. There are only a few exceptions, cases where a star reinvents himself or has an amazing renaissance after years of being washed up.

    Also, I think Smith has taken a hit because his whole career was built on likability, and he has made some serious PR missteps. For some reason he and his wife announced that they had an open marriage, his kids did a major interview where they seemed like they were on drugs, and the way he tried to force his son into superstar status with After Earth was not cool with a lot of people. I want to see Focus, it sounds entertaining and I love a good con artist movie. But everyone has their time.


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