Prayer Focus
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Movie Review


MPAA Rating: R for language, some sexual content and brief violence.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Romance Crime Comedy Drama
1 hr. 33 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
February 27, 2015 (wide—3,200+ theaters)
DVD: June 2, 2015
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures

con men / grifters / masters of misdirection

lying and cheating for a living

stealing in the Bible

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures

real world crime and other sins always have serioius consequences

Why is glamorizing sin and criminal behavior a bad practice?

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures

fornication in the Bible

LUST—What does the Bible say about it? Answer

PURITY—Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

CONSEQUENCES—What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Featuring: Will SmithNicky
Margot Robbie … Jess Barrett
BD Wong … Liyuan
Rodrigo Santoro … Actor
Gerald McRaney … Ownes
Laura Flannery … Cheerleader
Adrian Martinez … Farhad
Robert Taylor … McEwen
Stephanie Honoré (Stephanie Honore) … Janice
Candice Michele Barley … Liyuan's Supermodel guest
Dominic Fumusa … Jared
Brennan Brown … Horst
more »
Director: Glenn Ficarra
John Requa
Producer: Kramer and Sigman Films
Zaftig Films
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

Nick is the master of deception. In fact, he runs an entire operation of 30 of the greatest pickpockets and thieves the world has ever seen. With a simple dose of misdirection, they can steal practically anything: watch, purse, ring—you name it. Nick has got it all… or so it seems.

See, there’s this girl, named Jess. She is aspiring to become a con-artist, too. After proving herself to Nick, she becomes a part of his team. But if there’s one rule in the art of conning, it’s to “never let your heart get in the way,” and let’s just say that Nick and Jess are, well, letting their hearts get in the way. To make matters worse, Nick attempts to con a man in Buenos Ares that lands him and Jess in hot water. It’s a story that begs the question: can you ever really trust someone or is trust just a trick of the mind?

“Focus” is brilliantly written. It’s a story of deception (shown, unfortunately, in a positive light) that uses the art of deception to tell the story. When I wasn’t marking my clipboard for offensive content, I was eagerly anticipating the next move, questioning what was on the screen. I kept asking, “Who was deceiving who?” Even in the moments where I sensed the answer, in the back of my mind, doubt crept its way back in, which is appropriate for what the film is trying to achieve

I was also impressed with the performances by Will Smith and Margot Robbie. These two characters have a real connection on camera, each character playing off one another. The character development in “Focus” is excellent and developed in an appropriate manner.

My primary concern with “Focus” is the level of offensive content. Even for an R rated film, the language was over abundant, inappropriate and just plain unnecessary. The sexual content is along the same lines, unnecessary in some areas. The chemistry between Nick and Jess would have just been fine without the sex.

Content for Concern

So here is the content you should be aware of (please be aware that some of the content is graphic):

Violence: Nick and Jess’ lives are threatened in a couple instances. One involves a rear end crash, and another involves a person being shot in the chest (with blood shown). There is also some punching, choking and other rough handling of people.

Language: Extreme. There were over 100 uses of the f-bomb, h*ll (4), G*d-d**n (2), sh*t (20+), BS (4), Jesus’ names are taken in vain 7 times, God’s name by itself in vain 4 times, OMG (7). Other vulgar language includes s*ck (2), “grow a pair, ” d*ck (4), s*cking his d**k (1), pr*ck (3), balls (2), a joke about Australians, and various other vulgar sexual terms.

Sex/Nudity: Extreme. Nick and Jess are seen several times engaging in sexual intercourse (including humping), one character shows Jess a picture of his penis (we don’t see it, thankfully), Jess is shown in some very revealing nightgowns and bikinis, there is a scene of rear nudity, men are shown looking at women’s buttocks, and a scene involving a man in his underwear. “Focus” also contains heavy amounts of sexual dialog, including a comment about lesbianism, the phrase “hitting that,” comments made about female breasts, obscene uses of the word “pi*ker” (2), and references are made regarding oral sex.

I’m sorry to say that “Focus” has no redeeming morals that I can draw from.

Like I said, “Focus” is cinematically beautiful. It’s deceptive and constantly demands your attention to the screen and to take note of every moment. However, it is also very offensive. I really did want to recommend this film, because, cinematically, contrary to what I’ve heard other critics say, with some serious amount of editing of the content, this film is practically flawless. As it stands though, I don’t recommend it. The movie’s rated R for a reason (don’t expose kids). Heed the warning and find something more rewarding to do with your time.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

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Movie Critics

…Focus is on some levels an oddly sedate movie. There are very few guns, very few fights and not much in the way of speeding cars, except in the background at the racetrack. Instead, the film relies on clever twists, an old-school soundtrack and the charm of its performers. …
—Chris Knight, National Post

…a movie blessedly free of self-importance… The preposterousness of the story doesn’t seem like a rip-off, since the twists in the plot, for the most part, pay off nicely. …
—A.O. Scott, The New York Times

…The con is on the audience… Focus is nothing if not sleek and luxurious; it's a fantasy portrait of the upside of a sort of criminality that's portrayed as relatively benign, that is, without victims of physical harm. …
—Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

…Will Smith and Margot Robbie sizzle in the irresistible “Focus”…
—Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

…“Focus” proves his point, its sleight of hand keeping you guessing for just long enough. You won’t really mind the fact that you’ve been conned. …
—Connie Ogle, The Miami Herald

…Will Smith’s losing streak continues with woeful ‘Focus’…
—Kyle Smith, New York Post

…Will Smith and Margot Robbie in the perfect con movie, almost… Gorgeous actors? Check. Extraordinarily furnished interiors? Check. This could have been a defining grifter flick—if they had cut the final third…
—Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian (UK)

…drunk on its perfume-ad cinematography and doesn’t know when to quit with its double-double cross plotting. Most of the movie evaporates from the mind with the closing credits, except for the likeable leads, who don’t so much have romantic chemistry as friendly parity…
—Liam Lacey, The Globe and Mail

Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I have not seen this movie. I saw recently Will Smith had claimed to be a Christian while making the movie “Concussion.” That claim seems inconsistent with his making of this movie with what sounds described like pornographic scenes. I hope he will publicly denounce this movie, if his claim is true.
—Adam, age 44 (USA)

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