Focus

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Focus Movie Poster Image
Charming but uneven heist film is too sexy for young teens.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 104 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 9 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Lots of illegal/iffy behavior here, but in the end there's a lesson that love should mean more than money -- and that when it comes to lies, better to make them the "normal" lies that are meant in kindness ("yes you look good in that") than the compulsive kind that you start to believe yourself.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are all criminals, so it's hard to consider them role models, but at least Nicky realizes that love is more important than "the game."

Violence

Characters are tied up and held at gunpoint. One character is shot. Nicky has to publicly punch a man for the sake of a con. A bodyguard purposely crashes into a car to kidnap the passengers. A woman is hit in the face.

Sex

Nicky and Jess have sex several times, but the scenes aren't explicit -- lots of kissing, clothes being removed, and bare skin/backs/legs/"side boob," but no frontal nudity. During the scams, women are about to sleep with men when their "angry husbands" walk in, and scare off the marks, who leave their pants (and wallets) behind. Frequent raunchy/explicit innuendo and banter between characters.

Language

Frequent but not constant strong language: "f--k," "s--t," "s--theel," "f--king," "a--hole," "race skank," "bitch," etc. Lots of raunchy innuendo as well.

Consumerism

Piaget watches, Apple electronics, car brands including Mercedes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink at dinners, bars, and parties -- mostly wine, mixed drinks, and champagne.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Focus is a heist flick about Nicky (Will Smith), a master con artist who meets and falls for the beautiful young Jess (Margot Robbie), who wants him to mentor her in the art of scamming people. With superstar Smith and the gorgeous Robbie as the leads, expect even middle schoolers to show an interest, but the content is more appropriate for older teens. There's plenty of strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch") and raunchy innuendo, as well as several sex scenes, though they're limited to kissing and shots of bare shoulders, backs, and the sides of breasts (no frontal nudity). The con artists drink frequently, and a couple of times the main characters have to deal with private bodyguards who take their guns out, crash into them, and take them hostage. One character is shot.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byDsp March 1, 2015

Nothing good!

This is yet another movie that proves it is easier to market a movie than it is to produce one. We should have been provided a refund of the ticket price.
Adult Written byjoshua martinez June 20, 2015

16 and up.

this comedy movie stars with will smith focus is an average movie only for older teens and parents you need to know that focus has one violent scene there no se... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bytomogutu100 June 1, 2015

alright movie, not the best, for an adult audience

Parents, all though this movie is not that bad when it comes to content, its really inappropriate for children, and that's why it is rated R for language,... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byChloe's movies May 29, 2017

Ages 16 and up

My aunt and I watched it at my house and she loved it so I think it's suitable for a 16 and up only

What's the story?

In FOCUS, Nicky (Will Smith) is a renowned third-generation con artist who can convince anyone of anything. He has a vetted network of cons working for him, and he can work jobs big or small. One day at a posh hotel restaurant, he meets Jess (Margot Robbie), a young blond who unsuccessfully tries to run a con on him. Instead of getting angry, Nicky gives her some professional advice. Later, during a Super Bowl weekend in New Orleans, Jess tracks Nicky down and begs him to mentor her. He agrees, and he's amazed at her skills: She's a criminal genius. As he integrates her into his weekend of coordinated cons, they become lovers. He tells her his father's rule that "love has no part in the game" and lets her go without a real goodbye. But three years later, they bump into each other again in Buenos Aires, where Nicky's working on a huge con with the billionaire owner of a car racing team, Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro) -- who happens to be Jess' boyfriend.

Is it any good?

Focus isn't going to join Ocean's Eleven in the pantheon of great caper films, but that doesn't mean it's not a lot of fun. That's mostly due to the leads' ridiculous charm and the funny supporting characters who make several scenes appropriately tense but comical. It's easy to forget how good Smith is at comedy, and Robbie's timing is better than you might expect. But it's the scenes with their marks or their colleagues that are the best -- whether it's Nicky's hilarious right-hand man, Farhad (Adrian Martinez), or a rich gambling addict deliciously played by B.D. Wong. When the cons are doing their work, the movie is like a pick pocket's version of the Wolf of Wall Street -- you can't help but laugh as they steal bags, watches, wallets, and identities.

Ironically, the movie's biggest flaw is its own lack of focus, and the various twists and turns start getting a bit old and almost predictable by the climactic ending (if the audience "focuses" enough themselves, they'll figure out a key plot point). As Jess tells Nicky, "you saw what I wanted you to see" -- and in this case, it's a couple of "aha" moments too many. This is a fast-moving, shiny movie where you find out very little beneath the surface about any character or any theme. But, hey, it's still entertaining enough to make it watchable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about movies that humanize criminals. Do movies like these make you root for criminals? Is that OK? What makes a character sympathetic?

  • Do you think Focus glamorizes the lives of con artists? What does Nicky mean by quoting his father's edict that "love has no place in the game"?

  • Why is it so common for older men to have relationships with much younger women in movies? Smith and Robbie are 22 years apart. Conversely, why do so few movies show relationships between much older women and younger men?

Movie details

For kids who love comedies

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