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Focus is a 2015 romantic comedy-drama directed and written by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie.

Nicky (Smith) is a veteran Con Man who meets an inspiring con woman named Jess (Robbie). He decides to show her a few tricks of the trade, but things get complicated when his attraction to her causes him to lose focus on what he does best.

Tropes Include:

  • Abusive Parents: Bucky Spurgeon wounds his son and steals his money for being too soft for the game.
  • The Ace: Nicky proves to be this throughout the film. You think he's dropped the ball when he appears to be losing the gambling debts against the chinese man but it turns out that Nicky was setting him up to pick the number 55 and then lose millions to him.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: A heartbreaking example. After Nicky is shot in the chest by Owens during the climax, Jess breaks down sobbing over him, begging him not to leave her again and admitting her love for him.
  • Batman Gambit: Nicky's major con at the Super Bowl turns out to be this both for the target, and Jess, who he used to help make it work without her knowing. It happens again later in the film, when Nicky "confesses" that he tricked Jess again to unknowingly sneak a program into his mark's room, so that he can steal his information.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Owens (actually Nicky's father, Bucky Spurgeon) steals the money Nicky made for losing focus. On the plus side, Jess managed to steal Garriga's watch and it's implied she and Nicky will end up together.
  • Boyfriend Bluff: How Jess and Nicky meet. She was in the middle of ripping off a drunk guy's wallet and decides to try and con Nicky, only to find out he's an expert conman instead.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Nicky giving Jess a pretty justified dressing down that three years later, she's still just boosting watches and not working deeper cons with better payoffs. Meanwhile, they're both being held captive by Garriga and Owens and are about to be murdered.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Toledo Panic Button.
    • Jess being used as "the little blind mouse" by Nicky. He does it first at the Super Bowl by using Jess in his con against Liyuan Tse without Jess (initially) knowing, then he does it again when he uses her to gain access to Garriga's information.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Jess mentions early on that Bucky Spurgeon is Nicky's father. Turns out Owens actually is Bucky, as is revealed during the climax. Also literal because he shoots Nicky, and in doing so ironically saves his life.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Nicky has this to shout during Garriga's party: "WHERE ARE THE BLACK PEOPLE?!"
  • Cursed with Awesome: Subverted. Nicky was raised by an expert conman, and it didn't seem like he had much choice in the matter, but he also turned out to be amazing at it. The only reason he doesn't get to enjoy the spoils of the long con with Garriga is because his father is an asshole and takes the money while he's shot and too weak to stop him.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Upon meeting Nicky, Jess asks if he's a serial killer, as she's come over to his table to avoid a gross drunk at the bar who was hitting on her. Nicky then asks her how many kills does it take to be a serial killer and she answers with a number. He takes this into consideration, and straight faced answers, "Oh, then no." It's turned up to eleven when Jess and her partner attempt to rob Nicky up in the hotel room and he becomes even more sarcastic despite the fact that her partner has a gun pointed at him.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: Nicky explains to Jess about a desperation tactic when the con is blown. The con man shoots his partner and makes it look believable to fool the mark. But if he or she knows where to shot, the wound won't be fatal, especially if the person gets quick medical treatment. Jess would later experience this first hand during the climax.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Invoked by Jess near the beginning in order to steal from people in a crowd and initiate her into the group of con artists.
  • The Dragon: Owens. Turns out to be a subversion, since he's Nicky's father, plus he's been called in case bad led to worse for Nicky.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Nicky was called "Mellow" by his father in his youth. Alone, it sounds relatively harmless, but then Nicky explains to Jess that mellow is short for "marshmallow" and his father thought Nicky was too soft. He's called it again in the climax by Owens, who is actually Nicky's father.
  • Foreshadowing: When Nicky and Jess first meet, Nicky tells her a story about his grandfather and father pulling cons, and how his father got out by shooting his grandfather, this being the Toledo Panic Button. This is pulled during the climax, as Owens is revealed to actually be Nicky's father, pulling off the same story with the generations reversed - father shoots son instead of vice versa.
    • When Owens enters Nicky's hotel room, he starts lecturing Nicky about his habits and mannerisms. This makes absolutely no sense and you really wonder why Nicky is allowing somebody like him to talk to him the way he does. It makes a lot more sense when you realize that it's a father lecturing his son.
    • Owens says to Garriga he's certain of Nicky being a conman, and he will keep his Beretta loaded. He uses it in the climax to shoot Nicky.
  • Hypocrite: Nicky gives Jess a What the Hell, Hero? to Jess for lying to him about being Garriga's girlfriend. Jess points out that he's a conman, and thus lies all the time.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Farhad and Nicky talking about hitting on Jess when driving. Jess is in the car, sitting behind them. When she lampshades this, Nicky tries to turn the topic.
    • This is later one-upped when after a con where Fardhad pretends to have a heart attack, they reconvene inside the ambulance and Nicky and Jess start flirting right in front of him, which prompts Farhad to sarcastically state they should start with oral, then they apologize for flirting like he's not right there too.
  • Jerkass: Nicky's father. He does not show all that much concern about his well-being period and was willing to kill his own adopted son just to get away with the long con.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Arguably Nicky. He's a remorseless conman who sometimes uses Jess for his own means, but he still recruits her despite her lack of experience and does a lot to look out for her, eventually falling for her and asks Garriga to spare her life after they're both captured.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Subverted. After Nicky gets shot while he was about to confess how he really met his target in the world of professional racing, the man whom pulled the trigger turned out to be Nicky's father, whom was also playing a con on his target. He saves Nicky's life.
  • Lady in Red: Jess at Garriga's party. Played very straight, as she appears to be his girlfriend by now. As revealed later, she isn't.
  • Left the Background Music On: "Sympathy for the Devil" plays during Nicky's Super Bowl con, and when he explains how he did it, it turns out that the song was actually part of it.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Being a conman, it should be no surprise that Nicky is one. Jess becomes one too.
  • Maybe Ever After: Implied with Nicky and Jess at the end.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Any time Nicky's bare chest is shown except at the end of the film after being shot.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Virtually any scene with Jess in it.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Some of the trailers made it seem as if Jess would later turn the tables and con Nicky, but thankfully it turns out to be misleading. While she does manipulate him into being jealous, she is not the one pulling a con and fooling him in the end, so the student does not unrealistically outplay the teacher.
  • Parents as People: Implied. Early on, when Jess tells Nicky she found out his father is Bucky Spurgeon, Nicky replies "Father is a very generous term."
  • Playing Drunk: Nicky fakes drinking heavily and gets into a fight with Garriga after finding Jess at Garriga's party. This behavior gets him thrown out.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Jess to Nicky, twice. The first time is after the Super Bowl con against Liyuan Tse when Jess realizes Nicky is leaving her, and starts crying. The second crosses over with Anguished Declaration of Love after Nicky is shot by Owens.
  • Red Herring: After Jess realized Nicky used her for the Super Bowl con and left her. The film leads the viewer to believe that Jess is planning to burn Nicky and ruin his latest major con, when they meet again 3 years later. Turns out that Jess never intended on burning Nicky. And them meeting 3 years later was by chance, since Jess was also working on a con herself.
  • Shoe Slap: After Owens shoots Nicky in the climax, Jess stabs him in the leg with her stiletto. This is before he reveals he's Nicky's father and begins adminstering first aid.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Nicky's mark, Garriga, after the 3 year gap. He thinks he's smart and more clever than everyone else, but he gets targeted for three separate cons - one by Nicky, one by Jess, and one by his own dragon, who turns out to be Nicky's father.
  • Smug Snake: Liyuan Tse and Garriga. Both are overconfident in their abilities and themselves and end up losing out because of it thanks to Nicky and, in Garriga's case, Jess and Owens as well.
  • Surprise Car Crash: The theatrical trailer for the movie begins with a man in a car putting on a helmet. It's quiet for a beat or two while he drives, until he crashes headfirst into the main characters.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Nicky's reaction near the end when his car is blindsided by Gordon and he realises he and Jess are about to be captured.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: A Played for Laughs subversion at the very beginning when Jess and her partner fumble in their attempts to con Nicky. He then proceeds to lecture them both on every single thing they did wrong in their amateur attempt and leaves the hotel room while shouting back at them, "You SUCK!"
  • Title Drop: Nicky explains to Jess that keeping the mark's focus somewhere else is the most important part of the con. While he's pickpocketing her.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Jess is an aspiring conwoman at the start of the film, and thanks to Nicky, gains a lot of experience in doing so as the plot advances. He even suggests at the start of the film that she do this.
  • Truth in Television: Zig-zagged. Many of the cons run in the movie are based on real cons- including faking a shooting to fool a mark- that happen in day to day life, but other dramatic elements are punched up quite considerably.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Nicky gives this to Jess for attempting to make him jealous and to get back at Nicky for leaving her in New Orleans three years before, as well as for trying to steal Garriga's watch when he claims she can do better.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Garriga. In the climax, he puts duct tape over Jess' mouth and then squeezes her nostrils shut, forcing Nicky to watch her slowly suffocate until he finally breaks and starts to admit to the con.