Will Smith Is Back in Focus
Smith, Margot Robbie charm in film that lacks sense: critics
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2015 12:17 PM CST

(Newser) – Will Smith stars as Nicky, an established con man who takes on a new apprentice, Australian newcomer Margot Robbie's Jess, in Focus. They both love the con game, but who's playing who? Here's what critics are saying:

  • Richard Corliss at Time is a fan. "The mix of longtime star and minx on the rise is one tasty element in the success of a movie that approaches the modest goals and effortless allure of a 60-year-old Hitchcock," he writes. Smith "takes a welcome break from glowering sci-fi roles" and writer-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa "deserve some credit in letting Will be Will in the star's first charm barrage since 2005's Hitch."
  • Steven Rea at the Philadelphia Inquirer admits Smith "shows some of the movie-star wattage that's been missing from his recent pics. He charms." There's also "combustible chemistry" between Smith and Robbie, but the movie just "disappoints," Rea writes. "Even if you're willing to forgive its sinkhole plotholes and farthest-fetched conceits, the film ... ultimately makes no sense."

  • Betsy Sharkey, on the other hand, says this "rom-com-con" is "an irresistible reminder of all the reasons we first fell for the Fresh Prince so many years ago." Writing at the Los Angeles Times, she notes the romantic role of Nicky fits Smith perfectly, while Robbie is "more than holding her own" as his match. "The scams are Rubik's Cube complicated, but what keeps you guessing is whether the romantic connection between Jess and Nicky is real or just another con."
  • But Mick LaSalle at the San Francisco Chronicle isn't convinced. In a review titled "Will Smith just stole $12 from your pocket," he argues Focus is "ridiculous in every detail. It's a movie with no truth that teaches nothing and shows nothing, that has only its audacity to recommend it." Nicky and Jess lack "impact," partly because "Smith is not a strong leading man," he says. Viewers are left "waiting for the trick, which is not the same as being fooled."