I acquired six tickets this past week to the advanced movie screening of Focus starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street). So my wife and a few of our friends went and checked it out at Scotiabank Chinook theater on Wednesday. This is Will Smith in a leading role again; the last time he headlined was in the film After Earth and that was a HUGE bomb. Will Smith even recently stated that After Earth was the most painful failure of his career. Click here for that article. Focus opened up at 20 million this weekend. This is Smith's lowest opening weekend since Seven Pounds in 2008. The only hit in-between there is Men and Black 3, which is not a good sign for Will. However, Bad Boys 3 is in pre-production starring both Will Smith and Martin Lawrence reprising their roles as Mike and Marcus so there might be some saving grace. I liked Bad Boys, but with Michael Bay's last few movies, who knows how bad it'll turn out.
Focus turned out to be nothing great. The story breaks down like this (without any spoilers)... con man finds girl, con man teaches girl, con man falls in love with girl, con man and con girl break up, and years later he goes for the big con. Typical, yes. Exciting, no. The film spends no time building any kind of back story or likeable qualities about the characters. Plus it's always hard to believe the love story between thieves. Will plays himself (as usual), the 'too cool for school' kind of guy. There are some funny parts and some cool breakdowns on how a specific con was played out, but Focus is the kind of movie if you watched any of the trailers, you saw all the good parts already.
Written and Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. The directors of Crazy, Stupid, Love and I Love You Phillip Morris. No amazing shots or heavy storyline. They played it safe which is surprising since they also wrote the hilarious Bad Santa. But I guess you can't win 'em all.
There are a few great moments from actor BD Wong who plays a billionaire playboy with a gambling problem. Also Adrian Martinez plays Farhad, a large, out-spoken thief that is Will's cohort. You'd recognize Adrian from such movies as American Hustle, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and Kick Ass. He always bring great humor to films and he has some great lines in Focus. I hope this guy does more because he always makes me laugh.
The first half of this movie is fun, but it quickly falls apart and becomes more of a dark drama than the comedy it started off as. At 104 minutes long, after about half an hour it feels like three hours. The film also carries an R rating which was hard to see why.
This is the first film to feature Will Smith and Margot Robbie. The second will be the DC comics film Suicide Squad to be released in August of 2016. This movie looks interesting. Will Smith will be playing Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Jared Leto as the Joker, and Jesse Eisenberg has been rumoured to reprise his Lex Luthor role he will be playing in next summer's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Suicide Squad will be directed by David Ayer. He's directed Fury, End of Watch, and Street Kings. He also wrote Training Day, The Fast and the Furious, and U-571. This will be the third instalment in the DC Cinematic Multiverse, following Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It's about time DC starts rivalling the heavyweight Marvel. It has quite the superstar line-up so it should be good. Fingers crossed.
A few interesting trivia tidbits about Focus...
- Originally Ryan Gosling was to star, but he dropped out. Then the role was offered to Brad Pitt, but he declined. Then Ben Affleck was assigned but dropped out due to "scheduling conflicts."
- Michelle Williams, Jessica Biel, Rose Byrne, and Olivia Munn were considered to replace Kristen Stewart before the role went to Margot Robbie.
- Rosamund Pike and Jennifer Lawrence were both rumoured for the leading role.
- Emma Stone was also offered the lead female role but dropped out.
- Also, Focus was the first major Hollywood film that was entirely edited on Apple's Final Cut Pro X on 27" iMacs. See the Apple article here. Crazy!
Over all I'd give it a 6 of 10. Don't expect an Ocean's Eleven or The Color of Money type con movie. It's not worth heading to the theater, but it'd make a nice Sunday afternoon Netflix catch. I'm glad it was free.