REVIEW: Don’t lose your ‘Focus’

By Raffaele Fusulan
A&E Editor/Spectator

Nicky Spurgeon, played by Will Smith, is your professional con artist, showing off  some incredible skills right from the beginning of “Focus.” When Jess Barrett, played by Margot Robbie, tries to con Nicky in order to steal his money, Spurgeon calls the bluff and lets Barrett know that he knew all along he was being played.

Spurgeon is a very confident character that rarely let’s his emotion take over. As the movie progresses it becomes more obvious that he is in fact a mastermind at what he does. After their initial encounter, Nicky decides to take Jess as his personal apprentice.

She shows remarkable skills and throughout the training she proves herself more than once. The tutoring that Spurgeon puts Barrett through is very impressive. He teaches her that the most important part of their job is to stay focused and to never get distracted.

It is also imperative to always keep your target focused, this way it is easier to pull off the scam. Nicky explains to Jess how the human brain is slow. For example, if he is keeping eye contact while approaching her from her left flank, he can easily steal from her right side.

The movie is not just a story about con artists, but it also develops into a deep relationship between the two protagonists.

The relationship that grows between Nicky and Jess is unique.  It is so complicated, but at the same time delightful to see how it evolves. Will Smith falls in place with his character. It looks very natural and brings back the personality everybody fell in love with when Will Smith became famous. The comedy is a major factor and doesn’t feel at all redundant. In fact they are always spot on. Will Smith was right on target with his acting and felt very reminiscent of his early movies.

He has a serious tone and look but he does know when to let go of his emotions. The jokes fit perfectly with the narration.

Another well played card is the music throughout the film.

It syncs up with the storyline every single time. When the plot is about to unveil a twist, the selection of the song felt perfect and fit smoothly. When there is no music playing in the background the scenes are usually brought to life by environmental sounds. One really nice example was of  Nicky talking business with Garriga, played by Rodrigo Santoro, and the sound of the Formula 1 cars would fill in the void of the background.

Taking into account that Formula 1 cars travel at 220 Mph (350 Kph) imagine the zoom sound they make when they pass less than 40 yards (36.5 meters) from Nicky and Garriga. Other examples involve the natural feel of the Super bowl and the crowd reactions.

The directing was spectacular. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa did an amazing job. There are two beautiful scenes in which the camera angle is used smartly.

The first one we see Jess walking into a store but as the camera zooms out and follows the protagonist it is actually revealed that the camera was pointed at a mirror. The reflection was spot on because when the scene started it was almost impossible to tell that we were looking a mirror. This has been done many times in hundreds of movies but that scene was definitely one of the best ones.

Another one which uses the same concept has Nicky walking out of an elevator and the reflection comes from the crystal clean walls of the cabin.

The movie is surrounded by plot twists and intense scenes. Usually each breathtaking part is followed by a delightful plot twist, which are just surprising as unexpected. The movie plays with the audience’s head. It makes you think one thing in order to set you up for the unexpected and it does an astonishing job at it. 

According to, “Focus” leads the weekend box office with revenue $18 million, followed by “Kingsman” and “SpongeBob.”

“Focus” is a must see movie for all Will Smith fans and for those who love a thriller filled with deceptions.

Raffaele Fusulan is the A&E editor for the Spectator. He can be reached by