TRAILER BREAKDOWN: FOCUS
Will Smith’s comeback movie and the sexual over-reliance of it.

written by Audy Elliott
The ironic thing about this film titled ‘Focus' is just how unfocused the presentation of the trailer is arranged in this stylistic double-crossed underworld, Romeo and Juliet, heartache. Does the mood want to be sardonically funny? Does it want to be “Sinatra” jazzy cool? Or does it want to be a madcap embodiment of a cautionary titled track of one of Rick Ross’ faux-luxurious crime capers? We don’t know with this movie but it’s apparent that certain scenes are drenched in clichéd angst hip-hop “ride or die chick” thug life misguided allusions. What we do know is that Will Smith is back and this is the role he intends to come crashing through movie aisles with. As always he looks slick, wearing clean esquire photo shoot suits, and extra fitted muscle shirts while exuding the right amount of Michael Bay arrogance. Focus is a con movie in which Margot Robbie flaunts her Australian goods with an eagerness to prove that there is a brain in there somewhere behind the high voltage of her blonde off-centered looks. A lot of the setup, jokes and conflict is played off of Robbie’s clichéd pin-up presence. There is one scene where an associate lustfully-verbal daps Smith, inquiring if indeed Will is sleeping with her – He claims he not, and she confirms it by actually being in the back seat during the misogynistic inquiry. It’s not as if Robbie can be mad. It’s clearly this sex kitten trait that got her in Will’s backseat to begin with. The ultimate question is, can Smith keep it under control as smoothly as he sells himself to be? It’s clear that chemistry sizzles with her and any unsuspecting B Actor she shares the screen with in this trailer: as she knows what she possesses and how to use it in getting Smith to lapdog scene to scene after her with the least questions asked. This role doesn’t challenge Smith as he can sleepwalk backwards with it after taking a whole bottle of unisoms and still courageously “heroing” his way to the end, due to his professional talent alone. 

So apparently, Smith is given an apprenticeship to Robbie’s character for her junior girl scout long-con merit badge. The movie is obvious in the way that you can’t trust anyone and regardless of what your trade, craft, or expertise in criminal activities warn you against, Smith just can’t say no to the “unicorn in the forest” white woman at the pool party winking back to him in the black Prada bikini. This marks Robbie’s opportunity to show people that she is more than a real life Barbie by aligning herself with a real life Ken Doll: Smith, (who seems to work on his physique more than his filmography) by throwing herself to play off of his chemistry and bankability as a follow up from Scorsese. Ff she can’t be taken seriously as an actress, at least she is “name fucking” the right people for her resume. In one scene it appears that she uses the same “cat-daddy” voice to Smith at the dinner table as she used to DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street. If you blink fast you could be confused that both movies merged with the same character. She is just about one note as you can get in a limited amount of trailer time. This is not Sharon Stone we are talking about here. Stone’s sexuality came from her understanding how to harness it, and defy it by daring the audience to not believe in it. Stone owned it. Robbie’s sexuality comes pre-packaged with no assembly required thus objectifying her attractiveness more than making it elemental to the plot and movie itself in an understated way of not having to say it, repeat it and force it. Unfortunately the trailer can’t move on until we are browbeaten into believe it.

The lens, and film of the movie look artificially good but only because its copycat good. There isn’t anything pervasive or tangible that screams anything other than glorified music video, nor are we given an opportunity to see Smith in anything else other than the sensitive, macho, tough, gentleman that emphasizes the “OH HELL NAW” caricature. Again he looks good in designer sunglasses being stoically chiseled like John Shaft’s millennial nephew, but do you expect Smith to show you anything else? The movie is delivered with hokey-narcissism in the vein of a smiley emoticon burnout.  

We all waited for Will Smith to come back, but this looks less than overwhelming but more than underwhelming – it’s perfectly just whelming. I would like to see Smith challenge himself in a way where immediately you know he gave a shit as an artist and would turn off the movie star auto pilot template. Smith at this point in his career, is the marketing “brand” everyman instead of a self-challenged crafted actor. If it fits within his brand, and template, he will say yes. If it’s too controversial he will denounce it with a politician’s impunity like his backwards ass excuse for turning down Django. In the past there were three guarantees: death, taxes and a big Will Smith movie opening weekend. Shit, thank god we can still count on death and taxes. I find it hard to believe that audiences will accept this movie to make it number one opening weekend, not with Will Smith sheepishly busting his ass over a caper plotted film. The long-con is on him with the self indulgent hopes this hackneyed premise, one dimensional co-star and ho-hum trailer will exceed its delusional expectations. Unfortunately, this time he doesn’t have any aliens or robots to play off nor the luxury of Martin Lawrence "yahooing" shared scenes to a disarranged hysteria. Now he’s got the pop-tart co-star doe eyeing her way into his belt buckle to less than promising cinematic contrived influences of better movies.
0:06  |  Opening overhead shot. Never seen that before, how original.

0:29  |  Establishing shot of the city, just to make sure we know which anonymous city we're in.

0:31  |  Camera shot of Will Smith’s back as he is walking (aka Shady Bad Guy camera trick #714)

1:11  |  Self reverent, Will Smith wants us all to know that he is still aware of his blackness and he reaches for his card at the bar.

1:27  |  Second camera shot of Will Smith’s back shot in a white suit and brightly lit hallway, implication of a character “turn." He is no longer an antagonist but going to be the good guy now.

1:46  |   Will looks longingly up the stairs at Margot Robbie... the Feels… ooooh the feels!! 

 


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