What The Heck Is Focus? An Essential Guide

By  · Published on February 17th, 2015

Warner Bros. Pictures

Is the big con about the Will Smith-starring Focus that it’s not actually a movie? The con man obsessed outing – con man con man con man, it’s like Bloody Mary! – is due to hit the big screen next week, but its trailers still make us go, “huh, what’s Focus?” It sure looks like a movie, and what an idea to cast Will Smith in a big, splashy outing…that has a plotline that’s either so simple that it’s hard to comprehend or so obscured that we’re all being purposely misled.

In case you’re feeling the same way, we’ve assembled an essential guide to understanding what Focus (probably a movie) is about. It’s about conning people. But it’s also, weirdly, about love and laughter. We know.

What’s the deal with Focus?

Focus is a new movie that is hitting theaters on February 27. It is billed as a “romantic comedy-drama,” at least per its Wikipedia page, though its copious trailers, commercials, and TV spots appear to play up the criminal – sorry, the con – element. You’ve likely seen them, and they’ve probably made you wonder, what the heck is Focus?

Here’s a trailer. Can you figure out what the hell is happening here?

What is Focus?

Again, it’s a romantic comedy-drama about a con man. Or a con woman. Or con people. There is conning going on. And also, apparently some kind of focusing. Again, we turn to the film’s Wikipedia page, which appears to be the actual best source of information on this film. The page tells us that Focus is about:

“Nicky Spurgeon is a seasoned con-man who becomes romantically involved with an attractive young woman; while introducing her to the tricks of his con man trade, she gets too close for comfort and he abruptly breaks it off. Three years later, the former flame – now an accomplished femme fatale – shows up in Buenos Aires as the opposing side of the same scam: a billionaire international race car owner. In the midst of Nicky’s latest, most dangerous scheme, she throws his plans for a loop…and the consummate con man off his game.”

That plot summary uses the word “con” three times, though we still have zero idea what the actual con is. The trailers appear to play up sleight of hand and straight up pickpocketing, but how that could involve a “billionaire international race car owner” is mystifying to us, unless of course the man carries around a fat wallet. Have you ever seen the term “con” used so often to tell us absolutely nothing? Perhaps Focus is the real con. It might not even be a real movie.

Who is in Focus?

Here’s something good: Focus stars Will Smith and Margot Robbie and, by the looks of all the trailers, it appears that the duo has a very fun chemistry. Perhaps this movie really will be a comedy.

Focus went through a number of cast changes before ultimately getting made, a real mixed bag of talents, ages, and skill levels. It was originally set to star Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, which sounds fun, though the pair eventually dropped out. Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck were both in consideration for what had been Gosling’s role, with Affleck eventually signing on. Then Kristen Stewart came on board, and Affleck left because of scheduling issues, which led to Will Smith joining, followed by Stewart leaving the project, reportedly because she thought the age difference was too profound (Robbie is, uh, younger than Stewart). A bunch of other actresses were then considered for the role – from Michelle Williams to Olivia Munn, Rose Byrne to Jessica Biel – before Robbie was signed.

So we went from Gosling and Stone to Smith and Robbie. That script sounds…flexible.

Who made Focus?

Focus is written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who previously made I Love You Phillip Morris and Crazy, Stupid, Love. (you’re even more sad about that Gosling and Stone thing now, aren’t you?). The pair are currently working on Tina Fey’s next film.

Why is it called Focus?

Let’s throw this one over to the film’s tagline, which tells us: “It’s about distraction. It’s about focus. The brain is slow and it can’t multitask. Tap him here, take from there.”

Holy shit, the brain can’t multitask?!

Why will Focus be available in IMAX?


Should you see Focus?

Currently undecided. We will focus our thoughts on it and get back to you.

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Focus opens on February 27. It is probably an actual movie.