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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » March 31, 2015
Film review
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March 31, 2015   
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Action comedies with con men as protagonists usually hinge on multiple plot twists and other didn’t-see-that-one-coming moments. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the duo that gave us I Love You Philip Morris and Crazy, Stupid, Love, deliver an overkill of such moments in Focus, which they have jointly written and directed. You are likely to find yourself perplexed trying to predict what happens next in this insanely paced movie.

Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith—Bad Boys movies, I Am Legend, Independence Day) is the consummate con man who combines his gifts as a pickpocket with an ability to read people. He gloats that he can trick anyone out of their money. Despite his talents, Nicky and his gang—which consists of up to 30 people, depending on the job—tend to avoid spectacular hits, opting for a large number of small frauds instead. In the first part of the movie, Nicky and his people make $1.2 million in New Orleans by stealing hundreds of watches, wallets and lots of jewelry from football fans who are in town for the Superbowl finals. The gang also appropriate credit cards that they clone in order to draw large sums from ATMs and go on shopping sprees at their victims’ expense. Nicky has a zero violence policy—he’s all about being smart, smooth and nimble.

The New Orleans operation is a special one for Nicky in that this is the first time he has a student—and an attractive one too. Her name is Jess (Margot Robbie—The Wolf of Wall Street, About Time). They met when Jess and her partner wanted to pull the old “Oh my God, it’s my husband!” stunt on Nicky. The pro that he is, Nicky has a big laugh watching the two novice con artists trying to rip him off. After failing miserably, Jess asks Nicky to take her under his wing as his apprentice. With romance in the air, Nicky doesn’t take long to agree. That proves a good move because Jess soon turns out to be a gifted student, which, combined with her sexy looks and style, makes her a valuable asset to Nicky’s team.

Nicky, who describes himself as a third-generation con man, knows that love affairs are a risky business in his trade and relationships based on true affection are asking for trouble. After the New Orleans job is done, he leaves Jess with her share, $80,000, and sends her on her way. Little does he know that three years later, his and Jess’s paths will cross again, this time in Buenos Aires.

What brings both to Argentina is a billionaire who owns a Formula 1 team. Desperate to win whatever it takes, the billionaire hires Nicky to outwit his rivals, while Jess is the billionaire’s latest squeeze. Things soon get complicated and a game begins where nothing is what it seems.

Focus is a solid piece of entertainment that does not even try to be particularly original or profound. Viewers are just expected to keep their fingers crossed for Nicky and Jess, which is easy to do with such likable characters.
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