Or Now You See Ocean's Two
Focus Film Review
Snappy but a little too smug for its own good, Focus brings us a more engaging Will Smith than we’ve seen in years, but prefers preposterous David Blaine-levels of sleight of hand to good old-fashioned storytelling.From one standpoint, it could be argued that the film is a testament to the sheer star power that Smith still holds, and of the effect of two striking, charming leads – Smith making us yearn for another Bad Boys, and Wolf of Wall Street’s Margot Robbie – which almost makes up for the wafer-thin plot. Compare this with something like the empty Now You See Me – which trades in the same desperate attempts to ‘surprise’ you at every turn, with a similarly vacuous core – and you can see just how much of a difference it makes to have a Will Smith (or indeed a George Clooney) involved. Yet despite attempting to make for a one-man army variation on Ocean’s Eleven, Focus lacks the one thing that it ostensibly seems focussed upon: heart.Shiny and exciting, frequently witty – although never laugh-out-loud so – and sporadically serious, it’s these dramatic beats that most confuse. They're often utilised merely to trick the audience, despite the fact that this tactic leaves us with nothing substantial to hold onto. There are so many intriguing character flaws and genuinely interesting twists that could have been employed, but instead merely serve as misdirection, and when the successively bigger and bigger reveals slap you around the face, it’s hard to countenance the truth with the former fiction. Smith and Robbie are still having a ball – at our expense (although even their chemistry is frequently disrupted by the desire to surprise us) – and this is probably enough to get most through an otherwise pretty hollow magic show.
Blu-ray Picture QualityWarner’s UK Blu-ray matches up to its US counterpart with an almost impeccable 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. Detail is excellent, allowing rich textures and skin detail, fantastic background flourishes and impressive broader shots. There are a couple of shots – little things like a shot of Will Smith driving taken from the other side of the windscreen – where the focus lets up, but it’s otherwise an excellent presentation.
Barring the slightest of reservations, Focus’s video presentation is full of sharply demo-worthy excellence.
The colour scheme is rich and vibrant and popping with some wonderful tones, with a stylised overlook to the piece which favours key tones but never at the expense of rich and healthy skin colours. Black levels are strong and deep, only briefly skating close to some light crush, but otherwise remaining rich and intact, and affording outstanding shadow detail. It’s a near-perfect, easily demo presentation.
Blu-ray Sound Quality
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is just as impressive, with precision and presence that makes for an engaging aural accompaniment.
Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, snapping across from the fronts and centre channels, and taking precedence over the rest of the elements that the track has to offer. Effects are keenly observed and wonderfully replicated, from the minor atmospheric stuff which brings crowded streets or shops – or ball games – to life, to the striking sound of racecars screaming across the stage, drowning out most everything else. Surrounds kick into full action where necessary and the LFE channel is always on hand to give some hearty background oomph. Again, just shy of perfect, this is an excellent accompaniment.
Blu-ray ExtrasA number of Featurettes grace the supplemental section, briefly dipping into the con-artist theme of the piece before focussing on the two leads in their own individual entries. Some Deleted Scenes don’t add a huge amount and even the Alternate Ending is different in but a few words only. The Alternate Opening, however, is a ball, and could have arguably been left in.
Focus Blu-ray VerdictFor some, the many elaborate twists and turns of Focus may prove truly exciting and involving, whilst the charming star power of the Smith/Robbie combo afford it a glamorous edge. But a little further thought often leaves you wondering whether the filmmakers have gone too far in their efforts to remain unpredictable, and have not only had a counterproductive effect (the ending is far too predictable – and reaches a taking-you-out-of-the-movie level of absurdity) but at robbed the piece of any lasting character and substance.
At the very least the film looks great, especially with this stunning HD release. Fans should rejoice; everybody else consider a rental.
You can buy Focus on Blu-ray here
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