At 46, after 20 years in the business, Will Smith is still the coolest guy in the room.
Say that his recent output reflects a former heavyweight star waning into obscurity and I'll show you a man who transcends the biggest duds. He still made those stuffy men in black look good in “MIB3,” wound up overshadowing his kid successor as Cypher Raige in “After Earth,” and joined Godly ranks as a wickedly funny Devil in mystifying “Winter's Tale.” (And for fact-checkers: He only played the creation of the gods in “Hancock.”) Smith isn't versatile, but he's reliable. The trailer for “Focus,” the actor's latest, puts a darker spin on that established cool, Smith playing a confidence man in the thick of conspiracy. The man knows confidence.
From “I Love You Philip Morris” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” writer-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, “Focus” stars Smith as Nicky, a top-of-his-game grifter and a self-proclaimed scientist of “getting people to trust him.” When Jess (Margot Robbie of “Wolf of Wall Street”) enters his life, looking to get into the game, he reluctantly takes the bombshell under his wing. She might be the greatest con person he's ever seen, but they're business relationship all falls apart when romance enters the equation. Judging from this first look trailer, Nicky and Jess may be in the middle of some serious long-conning in play. Who pulls the strings is a big question mark.
“Focus” took awhile to come together. In April 2013, previous stars Ben Affleck and Kristen Stewart departed the film, leaving room for Smith and Robbie to step in. It's hard to imagine anyone else matching the sharp rapport these two find even in this hasty trailer. Like an inverted Hitch, Smith's Nicky is all smooth talk, criminal mastery, and tough love instruction.
“Focus” will take Smith back to his R-rated days of “Bad Boys” and “Ali,” which should give naysayers a little hope. The latter earned Smith one of his two Best Actor Oscar nominations (the other from 2006's “Pursuit of Happyness”). “Focus” looks a little too genre-heavy to earn the actor any real award buzz, but even by the end of the trailer, we see Smith lose footing, act vulnerable and feel significantly less cool. Who doesn't love a good inverting of expectations? Start coming up with your McConaissance-like portmanteaus now.
“Focus” hits theaters on Feb. 27, 2015.