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February 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Moviegoers this weekend are expected to focus their attention on Focus, an R-rated rom-com starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie. With around $20-25 million in ticket sales, according to tracking surveys, it will likely take over the top spot at the box office from Fifty Shades of Grey, which had subdued its rivals for the past three weeks. It’s expected to wind up with around $10-15 million. The two stars of Focus play con artists, and virtually every critic explores the question of whether the movie itself is a con. A.O. Scott in the New York Times, one of the few major critics who have given the film a positive review, writes: “You may be a few steps behind as the big scams unfold, but you feel more like a player than a sucker. 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.” Rex Reed in the New York Observer agrees, writing that “the first thing a sleight-of-hand mercenary will teach you is ‘Never lose focus,’ and Focus never does.” But the reviews are decidedly mixed. Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle gives it a middlin’ notice, commenting, “Focus is ridiculous in every detail. It’s a movie with no truth that teaches nothing and shows nothing, that has only its audacity to recommend it. Once that’s realized, it’s possible to take it for what it is and enjoy it, a little.” Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal ticks off a list of classic films about con artists, then writes of Focus that it “gives the impression of having been made by diligent students of the genre who missed the classes on grounding and logic.” To Rafer Guzman in Newsday, “Focus is a hollow counterfeit. It looks terrific … but falls apart even on cursory inspection.” And Kyle Smith in the New York Post rips into the film, calling it “woeful … preposterous, slipshod, unfunny and emotionally null.”

Los Angeles Times‘Focus’ to top ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ ‘Lazarus Effect’