Focus (Movie) Ending Explained

This post includes an explanation about the ending of the 2015 film “Focus”.

Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the 2015 crime comedy-drama stars Will Smith as Nicky and Margot Robbie as Jess. Beware of spoilers.

“Focus” tells the story of a con artist (Nicky) who takes a young woman as his apprentice (Jess). Shortly after, the two fall for each other. However, their romance ends abruptly when Nicky decides to break up with Jess. Three years later, the con artist spots his former lover again. Jess is now the girlfriend of his latest target (Garriga).

Plot Twist: Jess is not Garriga’s girlfriend, she is just after his expensive watch. Also, Garriga’s right arm (Owens) is Nicky’s father. They have been plotting against Garriga for a long time.

The Ending of “Focus” Explained

The ending of “Focus” reveals that Garriga’s right-hand man (Owens) is actually Nicky’s father. In order to protect Jess and Owens, Nicky lies to Garriga. Before the billionaire’s suspicions grow further, Owens shoots Nicky to diffuse the situation. Out of fear, Garriga leaves the premises. In the end, Owens takes the money away, while Jess carries Nicky to a nearby hospital.

The Con on Garriga Explained

Just to recap: how did Nicky get all that money? Basically, Garriga hired Nicky to play the role of an unhappy technician on his team. A man who is trying to sell Garriga’s technology to others. The billionaire wants Nicky to sell a faulty version of his software to his main competitor (McEwen). In the process, Nicky ends up selling the real version to all of Garriga’s competitors, earning him millions.

The Purpose of Jess’s Necklace Explained

For a moment, viewers are led to believe that Nicky implanted a little chip inside Jess’s necklace (the one he gifted her). However, it was all a lie. Nicky didn’t need Jess to wear that necklace in order to get access to Garriga’s passwords. He already had an inside man for that job: his father (Owens). Having said that, it seems that Nicky was sincere when he was trying to get back with Jess.

Why did Owen shoot Nicky?

Since the lie about Jess’s necklace did not work as planned, Owens came up with something more “creative”. Shooting Nicky would clear any suspicions that Garriga had about him. As mentioned earlier in the film, when things go awry, one of the partners has to shoot the other. They call it the “Toledo Panic Button”, a tactic used to divert attention and safeguard the con artists’ covers.

As an experienced man in the scamming field, Owens also knows where to shoot. He shot Nicky in a non-life threatening area. Shortly after Garriga left, Owens rushed to his son and drew the blood out of his now punctured lung.

What’s going to happen to Jess and Nicky?

Now that they have sorted out their past issues, they are probably going to resume their romance. The two have genuine feelings for each other. Jess only pretended to be Garriga’s girlfriend to make Nicky jealous. And the latter only told Garriga that he was using Jess to safeguard Owens’ true identity. Having said that, Nicky really gifted Jess the necklace because he was trying to win her back.

Why did Nicky leave Jess in “Focus”?

Nicky left Jess in the beginning because he fell in love with her. His father taught him that con artists should avoid love. According to Owens, “love will get you killed” in this field, those who fall in love often pay a hefty price for it. After remembering his mentor’s words, Nicky decides to leave Jess as a way to protect them both.

In a way, Owens was right. Nicky almost compromised their con on Garriga because he was trying to save Jess. Although Nicky always thought that Owens left him because he showed “weakness”, the reality was quite the opposite. Nicky’s mentor left him when he was younger because Owens was fearful for his apprentice’s safety in future scams.

Final Thoughts

“Focus” received a lot of polarizing reviews upon its release. Personally, I thought the film was incredibly fun to watch. Honestly, I didn’t expect much from it, but I ended up getting so much because of that mindset.

Here’s the thing, if you’re looking for a super clever film about the world of con artists, you’re not going to get it from “Focus”. However, the film is entertaining enough to keep its audience glued to the screen. The plot is interesting in the sense that the viewers are never absolutely certain of the characters’ true intentions. Are they telling the truth or not?

Throughout the entire film, the audience is led to believe that Jess is Garriga’s girlfriend. She created the illusion to make Nicky jealous. Since the latter is the main narrator of this story, as viewers, we are also led to believe that Jess and Garriga are together. In reality, the man never laid a finger on her.

My only critique of “Focus” is the timing of Owens’ identity reveal. In my opinion, the crack happened too soon. From the moment he interacts with Nicky, especially during the hotel scene, his true identity is put into question. There is an odd sense of familiarity between those two, given the fact they just “met”.

Another popular critique is the choice of a white actor to play Owens, Nicky’s father. Personally, I don’t believe it’s a big deal because Owens is the man who raised Nicky. In the story of “Focus”, Owens took Nicky out of the streets, which means he is not his biological father. However, due to the experiences they shared together, Nicky sees Owens as his father.

Even though “Focus” is not a mind-blowing film per se, there is something really great about it. That special element would be Will Smith and Margot Robbie’s amazing on-screen chemistry. Both actors bring to life Nicky and Jess’s turbulent romance and make it look credible. When those two are together, as a viewer, I completely believe that those two are an item.

Overall, “Focus” is a very entertaining film. The cinematography is beautiful and the pacing is just right. Also, the chosen actors to play the leading roles are more than perfect together. Honestly, the closest thing that comes to mind to describe “Focus” is “a nice summer dream”.