Will Smith’s career has spanned across genres. Here are his 10 worst and 10 best films.09/25/2020
- Will Smith is best known for films like "Bad Boys" (1995) and his central role on NBC's "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."
- According to critics, Smith's best films include "Men in Black" (1997) and "Dads" (2020).
- On the other hand, movies like "Student of the Year 2" (2019) and "After Earth" (2013) failed to impress critics.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
After starring on NBC's "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," Will Smith made his mark across a number of film genres from comedy to action-packed drama. But even successful careers include a couple of duds.
Read on for the 10 worst and 10 best movies Smith has ever been in, according to critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes.
Note: All scores were current on the date of publication and are subject to change. Films without critical ratings were not included.
Smith's lowest-rated film is Bollywood's "Student of the Year 2" (2019).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 6%
Summary: In the Bollywood film "Student of the Year 2," young student Rohan Sachdev (Tiger Shroff) follows his crush Mridula Chawla (Tara Sutaria) to a university and hopes to gain her attention by being declared "Student of the Year."
Smith had a small celebrity cameo during two of the film's dance numbers.
"Student of the Year 2" was a critical bomb for reviewers who described it as a banal movie with stiff characters and an anti-climatic ending.
"This sequel removes the unique timeline and narrative aspects for a dire, diluted, derivative teen drama that makes you question how anybody on the production team agreed to have this on their resume," wrote Musanna Ahmed for Film Inquiry.
In the science-fiction film "After Earth" (2013), he played General Cypher Raige.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 11%
Summary: Set in the distant future, the science-fiction drama "After Earth" takes place years after humanity has left Earth in search of a new home. General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) leads the planet through its new enterprise as he struggles to connect with his son Kitai (Jaden Smith).
Critics described the science-fiction flop as predictable.
"As drama, 'After Earth' offers no surprises; as action, it's rarely stimulating; as a parenting manual, it seems that Will has thrown Jaden into water that's a little too deep," Richard Brody wrote for The New Yorker.
He was Judge in "Winter's Tale" (2014).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 13%
Summary: Set in New York City in the early 1900s, "Winter's Tale" focuses on young thief Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) as he falls in love with an heiress upon her death. He becomes intent on saving her through reincarnation. Smith appeared in the film in a small role reminiscent of the devil.
Critics thought that the fantastical drama "Winter's Tale" came across as weepy and preposterous.
"On a purely narrative level, 'Winter's Tale' missteps early and often," James Berardinelli wrote for ReelViews. "Its earnestness is its downfall, resulting in opportunities for unintentional humor."
Smith played Howard in "Collateral Beauty" (2016).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 14%
Summary: In the drama "Collateral Beauty" Howard Inlet (Smith) retreats from his friends and family when he suffers a horrific loss. In an effort to find meaning in his life, Howard pens personal letters to Love, Time, and Death.
Although it had plenty of credible actors in it, "Collateral Beauty" was a let-down for critics who called it tone-deaf and unintentionally funny.
"Why did it get made?" Sandra Hall wrote in her review for the Sydney Morning Herald. "And how much did its gifted cast of big names have to be paid to enable them to suspend disbelief and commit themselves to such a concentrated dose of drivel?"
In the comedic flop "Wild Wild West" (1999), he played James West.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 17%
Summary: The steampunk fantasy film "Wild Wild West" finds two secret service agents James West (Smith) and Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline) on a mission to protect President Ulysses S. Grant from a rumored assassination.
A mess of CGI-robotic monsters, wacky characters, and an oddball plot, "Wild Wild West" was nearly unwatchable for critics.
"Unfortunately, Smith's abundant charm is squandered by making him play second fiddle to a bunch of dumb machines that look like rejected maquettes from a Star Wars brainstorming session," Michael O'Sullivan wrote for the Washington Post.
Smith came back as Detective Mike Lowrey in "Bad Boys II" (2003).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 23%
Summary: In the action-adventure sequel "Bad Boys II," narcotics officers Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) reunite to take on a turf war over a new brand of ecstasy enters the drug market of Miami.
Critics felt that "Bay Boys II" was a rare sequel so bad that it soured some on the original "Bad Boys" (1995).
"Like our two loose cannons with badges, the movie misses its target at least as often as it hits it," Collin Levey wrote for The Wall Street Journal. "Along the way, as well, it will likely batter a few brain cells into a premature grave."
He played Ben Thomas in the drama "Seven Pounds" (2008).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 26%
Summary: In the drama "Seven Pounds," Ben Thomas (Smith) is an IRS agent with a dark past. He seeks to find virtue in death by donating his vital organs to seven strangers, but he ends up complicating his plan by falling in love with one of the donees.
"Seven Pounds" was met with a wave of cynicism from film critics who couldn't get on board with the movie's over-sentimental plot.
James Christopher wrote for The Times, "'Seven Pounds' is a profoundly irritating mystery about a profoundly silly man."
Smith played two versions of Henry Brogan in "Gemini Man" (2019).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 26%
Summary: In "Gemini Man," skilled assassin Henry Brogan (Smith) realizes that the operative pursuing him is a clone that's been trained to copy and anticipate his every move.
Critics warned potential moviegoers that the film was too ambitious for its own good, with computer-generated imagery that bordered on the bizarre.
"'Gemini Man' aspires to be deeper than your average action flick with an obvious Freudian message about how our worst enemy is ourselves," wrote Asher Luberto for LA Weekly. "What it all amounts to, however, is a throwaway genre exercise disguised as a technological experiment."
In "Suicide Squad" (2016), he portrayed Deadshot.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 26%
Summary: In the DC Comic film "Suicide Squad," intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembles a team of Gotham villains including The Joker (Jared Leto), Deadshot (Smith), and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie).
"Suicide Squad" was received as a largely overblown, overstuffed movie that suffered from too many characters and too few creative choices.
"To say that the movie loses the plot would not be strictly accurate, for that would imply that there was a plot to lose," Anthony Lane wrote for The New Yorker.
Smith struggled to win critics over as Daryl Ward in "Bright" (2017).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 28%
Summary: The Netflix drama "Bright" takes place in an alternate reality where humans and mythical creatures, like elves and orcs, coexist. In the film, human cop Daryl Ward (Smith) and orc cop Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) attempt to find common ground as they patrol their block.
"Bright" was met with negative criticism from reviewers, who cited the film's generic characters and by-the-numbers story as its shortcomings.
"Bills itself as part buddy-cop movie, part lavish fantasy, does neither justice, resulting in lazy nonsense that's too silly to be good and too self-serious to be any fun," wrote Devan Coggan for Entertainment Weekly.
On the other hand, "Men in Black 3" (2012) is one of Smith's top-rated movies.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 68%
Summary: In the science-fiction comedy "Men in Black 3" Agent J (Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) return to right the balance of the universe. When K's life is put in danger, J realizes that he'll have to travel back in time to save the day.
Nothing can beat the praise aimed at the original "Men in Black," but critics at least found more to like in the third installment than the second.
"The movie represents at least a partial return to form — not as inventive as the first, but surely better than the recycled materials that made up the second," Christopher Orr wrote for The Atlantic.
The actor played Robert Neville in the apocalyptic drama "I Am Legend" (2007).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 68%
Summary: Based on the novel by Richard Matheson, "I Am Legend" centers on Robert Neville (Smith), the seemingly lone survivor of a plague that wiped out the Earth's population and replaced it with zombie-like reincarnations.
"I Am Legend" had its fair share of mixed reviews, but most critics pointed to Smith's performance as their favorite part of the movie.
"'I Am Legend' is a blockbuster like no other, one that finds its grandness in modesty. It's a star vehicle with a star who knows his place in the universe," wrote Stephaine Zacharek for Salon.com.
In the comedy "Hitch" (2005), Smith played Alex "Hitch" Hitchens.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 69%
Summary: In "Hitch," Albert (Kevin James) has never had luck with the ladies, so he enlists the help of self-proclaimed love doctor Alex "Hitch" Hitchens (Smith). As Hitch helps Albert find love, he finds himself falling for a tabloid journalist (Eva Mendes) who hopes to expose him as a fraud.
The romantic comedy failed to win over every critic, but those who enjoyed it said that it was a laugh-filled romp with strong leads.
As Sean Daly wrote for The Washington Post, "Forget about the predictable twists: 'Hitch' works best when it's a buddy comedy, with Smith and James having a blast as smooth Yoda and jiggly Jedi."
He played Robert Clayton Dean in "Enemy of the State" (1998).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 72%
Summary: In the suspense-filled action film "Enemy of the State," Robert Clayton Dean (Smith) is an attorney who gets caught in the middle of a salacious web of corruption when a friend (Jason Lee) slips him a videotape of the murder of a US senator.
Though a few critics claimed "Enemy of the State" suffered from an uneven script, most were entertained by the action-packed thriller.
"[Its] spirited action is balanced by an almost contemplative attitude toward surveillance phobias and the movie cliches they've spawned," wrote Lisa Alspector for Chicago Reader.
In the animated comedy "Spies in Disguise" (2019), he voiced Lance Sterling.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 76%
Summary: In "Spies in Disguise," secret agent Lance Sterling (Smith) is transformed into a pigeon by scientist Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) to pull off a seemingly impossible mission.
Critics reviewed the family film "Spies in Disguise" as a fresh, joke-filled animated adventure.
Christian Holub wrote for Entertainment Weekly, "It's a proud piece of family entertainment with a good heart, an eye for inventive action, and a delightfully wacky sense of humor."
Smith returned as Mike Lowrey for "Bad Boys for Life" (2020).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 77%
Summary: The third installment of the "Bad Boys" franchise follows Detective Mike Lowrey (Smith) as he convinces his old partner Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) to join him for one last ride through the streets of Miami to take on an old enemy.
Critics found "Bad Boys for Life" more entertaining than anticipated, and felt that it checked all the boxes of a fun, action flick.
"Action junkies can rest assured that this stylish, derivative and fitfully fun third outing will at least give them their money's worth in slashed throats, impaled torsos and bullet-riddled bodies," Justin Chang wrote for the Los Angeles Times.
He was Manny in "Where the Day Takes You" (1992).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 80%
Summary: In the drama "Where the Day Takes You," a parolee named King (Dermot Mulroney) recounts his early days trying to survive in Los Angeles as a runaway with his friends Manny (Smith), Greg (Sean Astin), and Heather (Lara Flynn Boyle).
Critics praised the film for confidently portraying the narrative of a "found family" through talented young actors.
As Roger Ebert wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times, "The movie, which was shot on and around Hollywood Boulevard, shows a side of runaway kids we haven't seen before: how they form surrogate families in the streets, seeking reassurance and security that they never felt at home."
Smith played Paul in "Six Degrees of Separation" (1993).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%
Summary: In "Six Degrees of Separation," high-profile art dealers Flan (Donald Sutherland) and Ouisa (Stockard Channing) invite a shaken young man named Paul (Smith) into their home when he says he's been mugged. Unfortunately, Paul is a con artist who is taking advantage of their hospitality.
Critics remarked that "Six Degrees of Separation" had the power and performance levels of a dynamic stage play and the commentary of a sharp satire.
Film critic Emanuel Levy wrote, "A rare sight: a sharply observed Hollywood satire of poignant ideas, such as opportunities in life, achieving fame in American society, and how we all are in one way or another con men."
Smith starred in the sci-fi comedy "Men in Black" (1997).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Summary: In the intergalactic comedy "Men in Black," New York cop James Darrel Edwards (Smith) is recruited by a secret organization that protects everyday citizens from the presence of aliens. Dubbed Agent J, the rookie teams up with experienced Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) to rescue the galaxy from destruction.
Critics called the science-fiction comedy a playful and entertaining movie that was elevated by the efforts of the leads.
"'Men in Black' is the wryest, sharpest, most entertaining special effects film in recent memory, a simultaneous participant and mocking parody of the more-bang-for-your-buck behemoth genre," wrote Paul Tatara for CNN.com.
The actor's highest-rated film is the documentary "Dads" (2020).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%
Summary: In the documentary "Dads," ordinary fathers from around the world, as well as a few famous dads, discuss the beauties, struggles, and joys of modern fatherhood.
Smith appeared alongside other stars like Neil Patrick Harris, Jimmy Kimmel, and Conan O'Brien.
Most critics had nothing but good things to say about "Dads," especially concerning the film's touching message.
"An optimistic yet affecting exploration of how fatherhood has evolved over the years and how far it still needs to go," Beandrea July wrote for The Hollywood Reporter.
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