Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Focus is Sleek and Slick But Too Twisty

Plus, The Lazarus Effect could use a jolt of energy, and the latest episode of Better Call Saul is excellent.

by | February 26, 2015 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got con artists (Focus, starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie) and re-animators (The Lazarus Effect, starring Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass). What do the critics have to say?



Right out of the gate, Focus has quite a bit going for it: it’s a slick caper flick that boasts glamorous scenery and magnetic performances from Will Smith and up-and-comer Margot Robbie. But while critics say that’s enough to sustain interest for much of the movie’s runtime, an overabundance of twists and turns may leave viewers feeling a little cheated themselves. Smith stars as Nicky Spurgeon, an experienced con man and pickpocket who takes Jess Barrett (Robbie), a talented grifter in her own right, under his wing. After a big score, however, their relationship takes a dark turn, which raises the question: who’s conning whom? The pundits say Smith is his old likeable self, and Robbie delivers a breakout performance, but Focus runs out of steam by the time it makes its big reveal. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Smith’s best-reviewed movies here.)

The Lazarus Effect


Like a mashup of Frankenstein and Flatliners, The Lazarus Effect is the tale of a team of scientists trying to play God. Unfortunately, critics say the film does remarkably little with its intriguing premise and talented cast, resulting in a sci-fi frightfest with few scares and less-than-credible science. Engaged scientists Frank (Mark Duplass) and Zoe (Olivia Wilde) have discovered a way to bring the dead back to life. But when Zoe is killed in a lab accident, her colleagues re-animate her — and open a can of worms in the process. The pundits say The Lazarus Effect is pretty generic stuff that could use a jolt of electricity itself. (Read our interview with Duplass here here.)

What’s On TV:

“Hero” marks the essential early evolution of Saul’s conning skills, beginning his amusing transformation into the well-known Breaking Bad personality.

Stars Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon make a fine Oscar and Felix, but The Odd Couple‘s flat jokes and canned laughter are pretty old hat.

Also opening this week in limited release:

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