There was a time when you could bank on there being at least one Will Smith movie hitting the big screen every year, but it has been relevantly quiet on the Will Smith front since 2008. Although not in the front of the camera Smith has been busy behind it, helping produce his son Jaden’s movie “The Karate Kid”. But the good news is that Will Smith will be back infront of the camera once again when he stars in the next “Men in Black” movie, yes they are making a third one. So whilst we wait for more alien busting action here is my Top 10 Will Smith Movies to keep you entertained.
10) The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)
Rannulph Junnah had it all, he was a great golfer, a legend in Savannah and dated the beautiful Adele Invergordon. But having gone off to war all that changes as he returns to Savannah a changed man more interested in drinking and gambling than playing golf. In the meanwhile Adele having inherited both a golf course and debts from her father is forced to fin a way to raise some money quickly and sets about hosting the greatest game of golf ever. Having aisgned up golf legends Waler Hagen and Bobby Jones to play she convinces Junnah to play after the locals demand a local player to appear alongside the greats. Having lost his confidence and swing it seems that Junnah is destined to disappoint but when a myserious man called Bagger Vance turns up offering to caddy for him it seems that things are turning around for Junnah.
I have to say that whilst I enjoy “The Legend of Bagger Vance” it has to be said between the mysticism of the character Bagger Vance and many zen like golf sequences it is all a bit too fairytale like. But then Will Smith delivers a charming, fun, intriguing character in Bagger Vance making much of what is really a lot of nonsense into an entertaining movie.
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9) Men in Black (1997)
Whilst giving chase to a criminal, James Darrel Edwards III discovers that he’s up against someone who is not human bringing him to the attention of Agent Kay who introduces him to the top secret agency MiB whose job is to control all the aliens who live on the planet undetected. Having convinced Edward’s to join this special agency, becoming Agent Jay in the act, they find themselves in the thick of things as the planet is facing destruction unless they can discover an Alien terrorist looking for ambassador’s from other planets.
Whilst the sequel wasn’t up to much the first “Men in Black” was a fun movie which not only gave Will Smith a box office success but also a chart topping song. It’s very much the sort of performance we like from Smith, delivering plenty of humour mixed in with action and with the surprise pairing of Smith and Tommy Lee Jones working so well it’s a movie which is fun from start to finish.
8) Hancock (2008)
John Hancock is a troubled man, on one hand he has super powers and tries to use them to do goo, but he also loves his drink often leading his good intentions ending up with disastrous consequnces and a traile of destruction. But whilst trying to do a good turn by saving PR guy Ray Embrey from being hit by a train he inadvertently gets himself a new best friend who sets about improving Hancock’s public image. All of which is well and good but for some reason Ray’s wife is not to happy to see Hancock being welcomed into their home and not just because of his accident prone ways.
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Right the first thing is that “Hancock” the movie is not great, it’s like two movies slapped into one and the blend just feels completely worng. But thankfully Will Smith as John Hancock does, with Smith creating a memorable bad ass hero and delivering a few moments of comedy with a lot of action. But like the movie Smith’s performance suffers with the first half being great whilst the second less than great.
7) I, Robot (2004)
In the year 2035 technology and robots have become part of life, much to the displeasure of Detective Del Spooner who takes a dislike to every robot he comes across. When Dr. Alfred Lanning, the man credited with creating robots in their present form, is found dead, Spooner is called in to investigate what many think is a suicide. But Spooner and his technophobic attitude leads him to suspect that Lanning’s death was not suicide but was murder, committed by a robot who somehow managed to kill despite rules preventing him.
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To put it simply “I, Robot” is a Will Smith movie, a futuristic serious one but also an action movie. So what we get is Will Smith delivering a pumped up performance in more ways than one with him showing off his impressive physique as he works out whilst also delivering high paced action sequences all of which has a touch of humour to them, thanks to Smith’s delivery of sarcastic dialogue. Whilst a sort of serious movie, it’s hard to take it completely seriously but Smith delivers an impressive performance.
6) Bad Boys (1995)
Marcus Burnett is married and hen pecked, Mike Lowery is single and a ladies man but they are partners, working for the Miami Police. When a sizeable amount of drugs is audaciously stolen from the police safe house Burnett and Lowrey have just 72 hours to retrieve the stolen drugs and catch the criminals. Not that simple when a confussion leads to them having to pretend to be each other in order for a witness to come forth.
Although Will Smith had already shown his talents on the big screen you could say that “Bad Boy’s” was his first major movie where he was one of the main stars. It’s another one of those movies where he delivers exactly what people like, so we get action, we get comedy and Smith creating a smooth operator in Minke Lowery. But it’s as much to do with Martin Lawrence’s performance as Will Smith’s as to why the movie works creating a memorable cop partnership for a new era.
5) I Am Legend (2007)
In the year 2012, New York has been abandoned after a miracle cure for cancer mutates and leaves those who were treated with it into flesh eating zombie like beings. The only person left in New York is Robert Neville who is determined to discover the cure for this mutant virus even if it means he is faced with a daily battle to protect himself from these zombie like beings who roam the streets at night.
It has to be said that “I am Legend” is a movie which has ended up splitting audiences. Some were wowed by this sort of horror story whilst others felt it a weak adaptation of Richard Matheson’s original novel. Whether you like the movie or not what is for sure it’s a strong performance from Will Smith who not only is the only character in it for so much of the time but also delivers that sense of fear and loneliness of the last survivor in a once bustling city.
4) Ali (2001)
Covering the yers between 1964 and 1974 “Ali” is the story of boxer Muhammad Ali. A turbulent decade in the boxers life it covers aspect of him becoming a Black Muslim, his friendship with the influential Malcolm X, his decision to change his name plus is this relationships and marriages. And of course it covers his boxin career and his fight to be allowed to box again after refusing to join the US Military.
“Ali” is another one of Will Smith’s movie which splits audiences because for many it cover such a small part of the legendary boxer’s life but also because director Michael Mann has such a stylistic approach to movies that it often doesn’t feel like a mainstream movie. Whether you like it or not it’s hard to ignore the impressive performance of Will Smith as Muhammad Ali. Firstly the bulking up he did to physical resemblance Ali is stunning but he picks up all the little mannerisms, the quick feet, the way he pronounced words pretty much everything is spot on and it’s such a shame that the movie itself ends up splitting audiences because it’s one of Smith’s best performances.
3) Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
Are dealers Flan and Ouisa Kittredge (Donald Sutherland & Stockard Channing) are just about to go out for a mean when a young man shows up at their New York apartment claiming to having been mugged and in need of help. Introducing himself as not only the son of Sidney Poitier but also a friend of Flan & Ouisa’s children he delights them with tales of his life and prepares a meal in repayment for their kindness. But when the Kittredge’s insist he stays the night they are in for a shock as not everything is as what it seems and become determined to discover the truth surrounding this young man.
Considering that back in 1993 Will Smith was known more as for his comedy and in particular “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” watching him take on a serious role in a movie whose roots were on the stage is very impressive. In fact Smith’s performance as the charming and eloquent young man in “Six Degrees of Separation” is what makes it work as a movie and his delivery of some thoughtful monologues makes for powerful stuff.
2) Seven Pounds (2008)
Haunted by a tragic secret, Ben Thomas looks to help 7 deserving people in the hope of finding redemption through his acts. But when Ben puts his plans to help into motion nothing can stop them, except the didn’t take into account for falling for one of those he chooses to help who ends up transforming his life.
Even before I say anthing about the brilliant performance from Will Smith as Ben Thomas you have to say that “Seven Pounds” is an impressive, emotional and touching movie full stop which is brave and different from your normal mainstream fare. But much of what makes it so good is the top performance from Will Smith who takes on a difficult, almost mysterious character and makes us love him, champion him and when he feels emotion so do we.
1) The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Based upon the true story of Chris Gardner who during the 80s not only found himself pretty much penniless but also a single dad when his wife left him. Often forced to live rough, sleeping in toilets and queue up with others for a room in a hostel he manages to get himself on an internship to become a stock broker in the hope of making a better, more secure future for his son.
There is much that I can empathise with in Chris Gardner’s story and as such it’s a very touching and powerful storyline, made all the more better by a performance from Will Smith which should have won him an Oscar. He really gets into the mind of someone who hasn’t any money and shows the emotional side of not knowing where the next meal is to come from and the whole desperation of it. But at the same time it’s an inspiring performance and storyline making “The Pursuit of Happyness” my number 1 Will Smith movie.