Will Smith stars as Nicky, an experienced con artist who meets his match in Jess (Margot Robbie). You can kind of take that any way you like. He’s challenged by her? They’re a match made in heaven? Both? She first tries to scam him, but being a scam artist himself, he quickly calls her out and begins serving as her mentor. After teaching her to be a better con and occasionally tossing her around in the sack, they abruptly part ways.
Years later, Jess and Nicky’s paths cross again. She claims she’s gone straight and that she’s dating a reputable man who doesn’t know about her past. Then she tumbles back into bed with Nicky and starts working a scheme. And Nicky starts working a scheme and it’s all one big question of “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?” (to quote the great Aretha Franklin).
A more burning question is, who cares? For one thing, they’re con artists, and not Charming Con Artists, just boring, shady people who are all tangled up in some sort of complication. It is possible to sympathize with people who do questionable things (how much did we all love Leon The Professional?), but the characters in Focus do little to compel us. Every once in awhile Gerald McRaney breezes through and chews scenery, adding some much needed but very out of place pep to a film that’s dead in the water. When the twist is finally revealed, it all still feels too tenuous to create a payoff, as if the bottom could drop out again and again as we just keep getting played. Thankfully the credits roll, leaving just one more awful song to endure before it all fades to black.
Extra features include a featurette on the art of the con, cast interviews, deleted scenes, and an alternate opening.