Now Playing: ‘Focus’ storyline cons audience

Jackson French

Jackson French

In the film, “Focus,” deception runs rampant, with con artists and thieves constantly trying to pull fast ones on each other. Appropriately, the movie tries to do the same to the audience, hoping that throwing enough glitz and plot twists around will distract from the abundant weaknesses.

The movie revolves around Nicky, a con man played by Will Smith, who allows Jess, played by Margot Robbie, to train as his apprentice. Despite Smith’s access to a bottomless well of charisma, he doesn’t have much chemistry with Robbie. About half the movie consists of Nicky and Jess looking at each other and failing to convince us they’re in love. Sure, they’re attractive and the settings are gorgeous, but neither of those cover up the lack of passion or any real reason for them to be together.

While the segments of the movie that showcase Nicky’s trade are fun to watch, it’s impossible to suspend your disbelief as much as they want you to. Most of the time, Nicky leads a gang of pickpockets that work with laughably unrealistic efficiency. The more elaborate cons, particularly those requiring segments that deconstruct the trick, are even more cartoonish and far too convoluted to work in real life.

As a con artist movie, “Focus” is required to have a few scenes where things aren’t what they initially appear to be. This perceived need to take the story in unexpected directions leads every plot twist to be more preposterous than the last. When the plot gets more involved in the second half, it continuously wriggles away from believability.      

With its attention always zoomed in on attractive people, glamorous outfits and luxurious locations, “Focus” only cares about looks. Though great production values are placed at the movie’s forefront, it’s still too hard to look past the increasingly ridiculous storyline.