Focus Blu-ray Review
I don’t think FOCUS ever knew what it was going to be. Originally, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone were cast in the lead roles and with them involved, I think we would have gotten a much better, more lighthearted film. Then Ben Affleck and Kristen Stewart were cast and with them, I think it might have been even worse and more awkward than what we got with Will Smith and Margot Robbie. But the leads are just two of the problems that faced FOCUS and without better direction, no one would have been able to pull it off.
Will Smith is Nicky, a veteran con man that stumbles upon a rookie con woman named Jess (Margot Robbie) during a chance encounter at a restaurant. He takes her under his wing and the two spark a romance. But Nicky is scared to fall in love and so he leaves her to her own devices, only to run into her again three years later, when she’s dating Formula 1 car owner Garriga (Santoro) and he’s working a con with him and fellow Formula 1 owner McEwen (Robert Taylor). Upon seeing her again, Nicky is somehow instantly in love again, which isn’t explained, but then again, it’s never really explained why he left her in the first place.
There was a time when Will Smith was one of the most charming guys in Hollywood. And FOCUS desperately needed a charming Will Smith to carry it. Instead, we got a grumpy, tired looking Will Smith that looked like he didn’t want to be there. It was a weird experience watching Will Smith in a role like this, with so little charm. He ascended to A-list status by being likeable and suave and he showed none of that here. Margot Robbie was a little better as the young and naïve Jess, but it wasn’t enough to make up for some of the other problems.
It’s always tough to watch a movie with two lead characters that are completely unlikeable and hard to root for, but even if we had more charming characters, the film still would have struggled. The plot revolved around the relationship between Nicky and Jess, but it was such an empty relationship that it couldn’t carry the film. They’re two very attractive people, so it’s believable they would sleep together, but nothing in their relationship said “love” to me, especially to the point of driving the decisions they made. But what made things worse was the con aspect of the film, where everyone was lying and looking out for their own interests. Because of how convoluted some of those twists were, it made it virtually impossible to establish characters the audience could like; we were always expecting them to lie or change direction.
I knew going in that FOCUS had a lot of problems. Films like this don’t go through so many casting changes unless there’s something wrong. Will Smith deserves a lot of the blame and could have made the film better if he had just smiled a few times, but the majority of the blame falls on the shoulders of the directing and writing duo of Ficarra and Requa. They hit a home run with CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE, but really missed the mark with FOCUS.
Video: FOCUS looks beautiful on Blu-ray.
Audio: The audio was fine.
Masters of Misdirection: The Players in a Con (9:57): A consultant comes in and teaches the cast and crew about how to pull off some minor felonies.
Character Featurettes (10:03): The two leads get two small featurettes about their characters
Deleted Scenes (8:05): Nothing noteworthy in the discard pile
Alternate Opening (2:57): This was actually a decent alternate opening. Not sure it would have done much for the film, but I like this one better than what we ended up with.