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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
A million years ago, it feels like, I saw the Will Smith film Focus in theaters. Life has been hectic, and I am honestly surprised that I even remembered that I saw this film. I realize that sounds like of damming, but I don’t mean that to me. Focus is not like the typical film that Will Smith would headline. Smith still plays a very Will Smith-type character – smartass charmer with a heart of gold. Focus is not a big, bombastic film with multiple action sequences. Instead, it is much more character focused, and that is where it really succeeds.
Smith plays a big-time con artist who begins to tutor and then fall for an up-and-comer played by Margrot Robbie. During their adventures together, the pull off a few major cons which are amazingly entertaining. I love a good heist film, and Focus doesn’t fail in that regard (especially when is plays with the audience’s expectation/interpretation of events).
Despite my enjoyment, the film does suffer from “two-in-one” syndrome. What that means is that Focus follows our characters on one story, but then completely switches gears to focus on something completely different mid-way through. It almost feels like Focus started out as two scripts that were then merged together. One can argue that the film is really about the Smith and Robbie’s characters and their relationship, but the transition in the film is very jarring and distracting. That said, Smith and Robbie are really great in this. They have an amazing chemistry that allows the film to elevate above some of the narrative issues. Smith is established, but I really look forward to seeing Robbie’s rising star in other things.
This is Smith’s first leading role since the 2012 flop After Earth. I am not surprised he decided to do something completely different. I’m glad he did. Smith is a much better actor than I think the general public currently views him as. With him doing these smaller films, he is really able to shine much more than a big blockbuster. I hope he continues to do more of these smaller films.