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The lifespan of a film is a strange thing. A film like Back to the Future is unmistakably a 1980s film, even though it also goes back into the 1950s, and even though it still remains timeless, regardless of when it will be watched. On the other hand, a film like To Live and Die in L.A., regardless of its quality, is terrifyingly stuck in the 1980s, and is almost the opposite of timeless. Stuck somewhere in between this is the pre-production of the second film from co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa.

Their crime romance Focus was originally written with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in mind as the love interests – which cements the film in the last few years – but their schedules conflicted, so nothing came of it. So then the directors landed a goldmine with Kristen Stewart and Ben Affleck, which would have been uncomfortable romantically, but would have gained audiences. But then he dropped out.

And now she dropped out and Will Smith is in talks to take on the leading role, according to The Hollywood Reporter. And while I have no problem with Will Smith pulling younger tail, this will have aged the male character 12 years, while the female character actually got two years younger during the change. I guess my point is this film isn’t going to be timeless, especially with Will Smith’s credibility hanging on to an M. Night Shyamalan flick. Nobody has forgotten about Men in Black III or Seven Pounds, regardless of how hard we’ve tried.

For one thing, it’s about a con man who gets into a romantic entanglement with a novice entering the field of conning, and while things are already uncomfortable, they get worse when they meet up again after the job. Nothing about that reads Will Smith, so let’s hope Warner Bros. is in the field of changing people’s minds with this one. Smith is still a probably a bigger financial draw in most kinds of films than either Gosling or Affleck, but this is the time for his acting skills to kick back in.

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