Over the past 25 years,
Will Smith has become a bona fide movie star. He’s one of the only actors in the world who can open a movie on name recognition alone. Yet only a handful of his roles have received critical acclaim. Smith’s latest outing, has finally arrived in theaters after over 20 years in development; it’s nearly as old as Smith’s film career itself. Much like the plot of the film about an aging hitman who is targeted by a younger, more youthful clone of himself, the latter part of Smith’s career has seen the actor chasing the glory of his early career. Let’s take a look at the best (but mostly worst) of Will Smith’s career to celebrate the release of Gemini Man, Gemini Man.
Cover Photo: Paramount Pictures
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The Best (But Mostly Worst) of Will Smith
Worst: 'Seven Pounds'
2008 was a rough year for Smith’s career. While
Hancock continued to solidify the actor as a box office draw, Seven Pounds was the first in a series of would-be Oscar-bait flops. Smith tried his hardest to give an Oscar-worthy performance, but for a film with religious principles, it had limited appeal. It was too sentimental to be taken seriously and its appeal was limited with its in-your-face religious undertones.
Worst: 'Winter's Tale'
Winter’s Tale is the only film on this list to feature a real supporting performance from Smith, it’s also one of his worst. While Smith plays Lucifer in the movie, his performance is mostly monotone, dismal, and joyless. It's a film that isn't worth watching in its entirety.
Worst: 'Collateral Beauty'
In many ways,
Collateral Beauty is the spiritual successor to Seven Pounds. The plot is so absurd that the executive who greenlit it should probably be fired – oh wait, he was. Aside from its contrived nature, Collateral Beauty managed to become a commercial success. If anything, the film proves Smith still has broad appeal, despite his questionable creative choices in the past decade.
Worst: 'Shark Tale'
As the only animated movie in Smith’s filmography,
Shark Tale is easily one of the most forgettable. Basically, it's a blatant rip-off of Finding Nemo.
Out of all the Smith-led catastrophes that have plagued our eyes over the years, not many come close to
Bright. Although critics lambasted it, the film’s critical consensus is far removed from how inept this movie actually is. Even Smith himself can’t save it. No matter what Netflix would try to make you believe, Bright is a terrible attempt at franchise-conjuring.
Worst: 'Wild Wild West'
While most of Smith’s filmography is hit-and-miss,
Wild Wild West is the absolute epitome of clusterf*ck disaster. After all, Wild Wild West is the movie the Smith turned down The Matrix to make. Let that seep into your brain for a second before it explodes.
Worst: 'After Earth'
After Earth once again tested Smith's viability as a box office draw. As his worst critical outing before 2019, the film represents the low point of both Smith and director M. Night Shyamalan's careers. With a character that has such a sweet name like Cypher Raige, it's hard to go wrong, right? Shyamalan begs to differ.
Best: 'Independence Day'
Above the rest of his filmography,
Independence Day is easily Smith’s most memorable role. While Bad Boys put Smith on the map in terms of '90s sex appeal, Independence Day is undoubtedly the role that shot him into superstardom. Even though Independence Day is an ensemble piece, Smith’s charisma manages to make him feel like the star of the show. There’s something endlessly re-watchable about Independence Day, and there’s no doubt that Smith is a reason for that.
Best: 'The Pursuit of Happyness'
As one of two roles to garner Smith an Oscar nomination,
The Pursuit of Happyness is perhaps his best dramatic role. Even though Smith is pulling from real-life experiences in this role, it’s his most nuanced performance to date. It also allowed Smith to achieve his lifelong dream of forcefully propelling his son Jayden into the spotlight.
Best: 'Men In Black'
There’s no doubt that
Men In Black is Smith's best film and one of the best big-budget sci-fi extravaganzas of the ’90s. Barry Sonnenfeld’s film has held up over time and it epitomizes the type of roles that fit Smith best: big, bombastic roles that take advantage of his quick-witted sensibilities.