Film Review: Focus

by Sam Robinson

Rated MA15+. Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie. Directed by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa.

How far would you go in order to get what you want?

Focus takes us inside the world of professional conmen and women. Nicky (Smith) is a star player, a smooth talker who can hold a poker face through any high stakes gamble. He meets Jess (Robbie) and takes her under his wing as a protege of sorts, teaching her the tricks of the trade of how to steal, lie, and deceive. She picks up the art very quickly, and the pair inevitably fall for each other.

But here’s where Focus gets interesting. Are Nicky and Jess really in love? Or is it all an act? Are they playing each other? The lines are blurred and it often takes a while to see things clearly. The plot meanders at times, but this tension remains strong from start to finish. Smith and Robbie have excellent chemistry, paired with masterful comic timing, and directors Ficarra and Requa go to town on this.

The film shifts weight from a rom-com to action to comedy, which can be hard to keep up with at times. My greatest criticism of Focus is that for such a high stakes thriller, it can move rather slowly. This is no doubt intended to keep suspense running, but there are scenes that just go forever (the Super Bowl gamble felt like it went for twenty minutes).

‘You get their focus, you take whatever you want.’

Focus is all about deceit. Each character has their own selfish motivations to get what they want, and they will do anything to get it. Every scene is loaded with wealth – jewellery, piles of cash, nightclubs filled with the rich in finery, poolsides swarming with fashion. These worldly possessions are often proven to be of greater worth than people and relationships, and this results in hurt.

It’s easy to watch a film like this and label Nicky and Jess as petty crooks and rotten liars. But the truth is that we are are all liars, even though we may not be professional conmen. The Bible explains this, in James 2:10 –

‘For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.’

Have you ever told a lie? I know I have. And this shows that we are no better than each other. We are all liars. We are all sinful. We are all guilty. Falsehood is in our DNA. We use people to get what we want, and we often feel no remorse for doing so. But God is good. He gave us Jesus, in whom we find truth, real truth. As 1 Peter 2:22 tells us, he committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.

We need to trust in Jesus and accept the truth of his words. If we do, he promises to forgive us from our sinful, selfish hearts and give us his righteousness. It’s an amazing swap, that none of us deserve!

Focus is a smooth flick that may not reach the heist heights of Oceans Eleven or Catch Me If You Can, but is still a lot of fun. I’m giving it three-and-a-half out of five.

Focus will release in Australian cinemas this Thursday, 5th March. It is already screening in cinemas elsewhere.

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