Will Smith movies ranked from worst to first

Written by:
September 13, 2018
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Will Smith movies ranked from worst to first

Similar to his early TV counterpart, Willard Carroll Smith Jr.—better known as Will Smith—was West Philadelphia born and raised. While attending Overbrook Catholic High School, Smith had a reputation for being charming and quick-witted, sometimes to the point of distracting his peers. Despite his strong chance of getting into MIT, Smith pursued a career in music instead, forming hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince with childhood friend Jeffrey Townes. By 1986, the duo had released their first album on Jive Records, and by 1989, they were a Grammy-nominated act. After being saddled with a hefty IRS tax bill, Smith took a lead role in a TV show called “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” which soon paved the way for an A-list movie career.

To this day, Will Smith remains a movie star of the highest order, even if he’s not the cultural phenomenon he once was. The man knows how to keep busy, with no fewer than seven films currently in development or production—not to mention the slew of iconic movies already under his belt. But what are Smith’s best and worst films to-date? Stacker is here with the answer. Using IMDb data as the source, Stacker ranked the 29 movies in which Will Smith has a major acting role. In case of a rating tie, the movie with more votes ranked higher on the list. However, movies in which Smith has a cameo appearance, producer role, or soundtrack credit (exclusively) were not considered for the list. Without further ado, here are Will Smith’s movies from worst to first.

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#29. Wild Wild West

IMDb rating: 4.9

IMDb user votes: 141,135

Release year: 1999

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

Sometimes a movie is so disappointing that it becomes famous for all the wrong reasons. 1999’s “Wild Wild West” is one of those movies. In the film, Smith plays gunslinger James West, who takes on a crazed inventor (Kenneth Branagh) during a train journey of epic proportions. The effort was (if nothing else) an attempt to repeat Smith's success with “Men in Black,” complete with custom music video. Needless to say, mission: not accomplished.


#28. After Earth

IMDb rating: 4.9

IMDb user votes: 176,435

Release year: 2013

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Another notorious stinker, “After Earth” finds Smith starring alongside real-life son Jaden, marking the second time they've played father and son in a movie. Set 1,000 years after mankind abandons Earth, the film follows the pair as they crash-land back home and embark on a perilous quest for help. The sting of failure from this turkey was particularly painful for Smith, who reportedly poured his heart into the project. The movie was also the last in a string of critical disappointments from director M. Night Shyamalan.  



#27. Made in America

IMDb rating: 5.0

IMDb user votes: 14,267

Release year: 1993

Director: Richard Benjamin

In "Made in America," a young woman (Nia Long) discovers that the sperm donor used to conceive her was in fact white, not black, as her mother had expressly requested. Not only is he white—he's Ted Danson! Playing the role of donor (and boisterous car salesman) Hal Jackson, of course. Will Smith plays Tea Cake Walters, the protagonist's best friend, and contributed to the film's soundtrack, as well. While admittedly cheesy and topical, the film succeeded in delivering a small amount of poignant social commentary. 

#26. Welcome to Hollywood

IMDb rating: 5.3

IMDb user votes: 637

Release year: 1998

Director: Tony Markes

This obscure mockumentary from 1998 follows a young actor (Tony Markes) as he tries to make it in Hollywood, encountering a range of obstacles along the way. True to its premise, the movie features a ton of celebrity cameos, including Will Smith and his wife, Jada. Actors and actresses such as Ewan McGregor, John Travolta, Julianne Moore, Salma Hayek, and many others also make an appearance.


#25. Shark Tale

IMDb rating: 6

IMDb user votes: 148,895

Release year: 2004

Director: Bibo Bergeron

Will Smith loaned his voice to this 2004 undersea adventure from Dreamworks Animation, in which a bottom-feeding fish named Oscar (Smith) takes credit for the death of a gangster shark. While the subsequent notoriety earns Oscar a place at the “top of the reef,” it might only be a matter of time before he sleeps with the fishes. The profitable but critically lambasted film features additional voice work from Robert De Niro, Renée Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, Martin Scorsese, and Jack Black, among others.


#24. Men in Black II

IMDb rating: 6.1

IMDb user votes: 297,843

Release year: 2002

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

The second time around was not the charm for the “Men in Black” franchise, with this 2002 sequel representing a definitive low point for the series. This time around, Agents K (Tommy Lee Jones) and J (Will Smith) race against the clock to stop a shape-shifting Kylothian named Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle) from destroying the planet. There’s just one glaring problem: Agent K has no memory of being an MiB agent in the first place.


#23. Suicide Squad

IMDb rating: 6.1

IMDb user votes: 491,672

Release year: 2016

Director: David Ayer

This 2016 comic book adaptation may have torn things up at the box office, but for most viewers, the execution left much to be desired. In the movie, a motley crew of super-villains is thrown together by a secret government agency and tasked with saving the world from the apocalypse. Joining Smith (who plays Deadshot) is a talented cast, including Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, and Jared Leto.  


#22. Winter's Tale

IMDb rating: 6.2

IMDb user votes: 47,525

Release year: 2014

Director: Akiva Goldsman

The critics were not kind to this 2014 fantasy romance from writer/director Akiva Goldsman. The movie was based on a 1983 novel by Mark Helprin and chronicles the undying romance between Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) and Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay) over multiple lifetimes. Will Smith stars as Lucifer himself, a.k.a. "Judge." In 2002, director Martin Scorsese deemed the source material to be “unfilmable”. The finished product did little to prove otherwise.


#21. Jersey Girl

IMDb rating: 6.2

IMDb user votes: 58,898

Release year: 2004

Director: Kevin Smith

In this Kevin Smith dramedy, Ben Affleck stars as Ollie Trinke, a man who must raise his gifted daughter alone when the girl’s mother (Jennifer Lopez) dies unexpectedly. When a potential love interest (Liv Tyler) enters the picture, Ollie struggles to leave the past behind. Will Smith makes an uncredited cameo as himself, offering Ollie choice words in a time of need. After the film tanked at the box office, Kevin Smith went back to his roots and released a sequel to his breakout hit, “Clerks.” As for Will Smith, he probably forgot he was even in the movie to begin with.


#20. Bright

IMDb rating: 6.4

IMDb user votes: 133,959

Release year: 2017

Director: David Ayer

Exploring racial divides through the lens of an alternate reality, this 2017 Netflix film takes place in a world where humans and an alien race known as orcs co-exist. After LAPD cop Daryl Ward (Smith) gets shot by an orc, he wonders if his orc partner (Joel Edgerton) intentionally let the criminal get away. Eventually, the two officers learn how to work together, as they track down a powerful weapon. Critics were noticeably disappointed with the film—as were a fair amount of IMDb voters—but that hasn’t stopped Netflix from trying to build a franchise. The next installment is currently in development.


#19. Hancock

IMDb rating: 6.4

IMDb user votes: 395,153

Release year: 2008

Director: Peter Berg

What starts out as an engaging, unconventional action movie turns into an aimless mess, which might be why “Hancock” spawned no sequels or spin-offs. In the film, Will Smith plays John Hancock, an alcoholic former superhero who’s become the most hated man in Los Angeles due to his destructive ways. With the help of a PR agent (Jason Bateman), Hancock sets out on a journey to restore his public image, crossing paths with the agent’s mysterious wife (Charlize Theron) along the way.    


#18. Focus

IMDb rating: 6.6

IMDb user votes: 183,586

Release year: 2015

Director: Glenn Ficarra

Before starring alongside one another in “Suicide Squad,” Will Smith and Margot Robbie teamed up for this mostly entertaining film about veteran grifter Nicky (Smith), who takes an amateur (Robbie) under his wing. When the relationship turns toxic, Nicky abandons his student on the side of a road. Three years later, they reconnect and become embroiled in a dangerous scheme. While the movie was a critical disappointment, it performed reasonably well at the worldwide box office.


#17. Bad Boys II

IMDb rating: 6.6

IMDb user votes: 198,913

Release year: 2003

Director: Michael Bay

Narcotics detectives Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are back in this action-packed sequel from Michael Bay. This time around, they’re on the trail of a dangerous kingpin named Johnny Tapia, who’s flooding Miami with drugs and wiping out the competition by whatever means necessary. While not nearly as consistent as the original “Bad Boys,” the second installment provides one explosive —and frequently hilarious—ride.   


#16. Hitch

IMDb rating: 6.6

IMDb user votes: 269,765

Release year: 2005

Director: Andy Tennant

One of the most successful romantic comedies of all time, this 2005 movie found Will Smith playing Hitch, a “date doctor” who teaches men how to appeal to ladies. While the premise may sound superficial at first, Hitch abides by a strict policy of helping each client become the best version of his authentic self. Thanks to Hitch’s services, a hapless man (Kevin James) ends up seducing a celebrity way out of his league. Meanwhile, Hitch must put his own skills to test when he falls for an attractive gossip columnist.  


#15. The Legend of Bagger Vance

IMDb rating: 6.7

IMDb user votes: 49,542

Release year: 2000

Director: Robert Redford

Set during the Great Depression, this sports drama centers on traumatized war veteran Rannulph Junuh (Matt Damon), who rediscovers his passion for golf with help from a mystical caddy named Bagger Vance (Smith). As Vance dispenses various pearls of wisdom, it becomes clear that he’s talking about far more than just the game. Based on a book, the movie opened to disappointing box office numbers and lukewarm reviews.


#14. Where the Day Takes You

IMDb rating: 6.8

IMDb user votes: 2,846

Release year: 1991

Director: Marc Rocco

Featuring an ensemble cast, this 1991 drama follows a group of teenage runaways as they struggle to survive on the streets of Los Angeles. Released a year after “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” debuted, “Where the Day Takes You” marked Smith’s first big-screen role, and was the first film to show off his considerable range. Despite warm reviews and a handful of awards, the movie barely put a dent in the domestic box office, though the industry took notice of Smith’s convincing performance as a disabled homeless man.


#13. Collateral Beauty

IMDb rating: 6.8

IMDb user votes: 71,375

Release year: 2016

Director: David Frankel

Audiences were more receptive to this 2016 drama than the critics were, though it still underperformed at the box office. In the film, Smith plays a successful New York advertising executive named Howard, whose grip on reality slips in the wake of a personal tragedy. Searching for answers, Howard sends out letters to the respective entities of Death, Time, and Love. To his surprise, those entities show up in the form of three humans. But are Death, Time, and Love really who they claim to be?


#12. Ali

IMDb rating: 6.8

IMDb user votes: 85,836

Release year: 2001

Director: Michael Mann

After headlining a string of blockbusters, Will Smith took on a far more challenging role in 2001, playing legendary boxer Muhammad Ali in this biopic from Michael Mann. To prepare for the role, Smith attended a professional training camp, where he ate a high-protein diet, ran three miles a day, sparred in the ring, lifted weights, and watched fight films. While the actor clearly brought nothing but the best of intentions to the part, the movie was considered something of a disappointment, especially at the box office.


#11. Bad Boys

IMDb rating: 6.8

IMDb user votes: 197,562

Release year: 1995

Director: Michael Bay

Bringing their infectious personalities to the table, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence helped turn this 1995 Michael Bay action movie into a bona fide pop culture phenomenon. In the film, Smith plays perennial bachelor Mike Lowrey to Lawrence’s family man, Marcus Burnett. Together, the two detectives protect an important witness (Téa Leoni), while investigating the related matter of missing heroin from a police storage locker. Thanks to its clever blend of comedy and action, the movie scored big with audiences, even if several critics weren’t impressed. It also introduced Smith as a veritable action movie star. A third (and possibly fourth) installment is currently in development.


#10. Men in Black 3

IMDb rating: 6.8

IMDb user votes: 295,494

Release year: 2012

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

In the wake of a lackluster sequel, the MiB find their footing once again in this third installment, which became the highest-grossing title in the franchise. After a vicious alien known as Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) goes back in time to kill Agent K, Agent J must likewise travel to 1969 to stop it from happening. Playing a young Agent K with straight-faced perfection is Josh Brolin. Back in 2012, Smith said he would return for another installment, but nothing has come to fruition in the time since. Meanwhile, a spin-off film is currently in production.


#9. Six Degrees of Separation

IMDb rating: 6.9

IMDb user votes: 18,052

Release year: 1993

Director: Fred Schepisi

Representing Will Smith’s first mainstream movie role, this 1993 satirical drama finds him playing a mysterious young man named Paul. One night, Paul shows up at the door of Ouisa and Flan Kittredge, a New York high society couple. Claiming to be the son of actor Sidney Poitier and a close friend of the Kittredges' children, Paul finagles his way into the couple’s life. Upon realizing that Paul is in fact a con man, the Kittredges kick him out, only to later discover they’re the last in a line of upper-crust victims. Look for future super-producer J.J. Abrams in a rare supporting role.


#8. Independence Day

IMDb rating: 7

IMDb user votes: 479,757

Release year: 1996

Director: Roland Emmerich

While “Independence Day” features an ensemble cast, Will Smith steals the show as Marine Corps pilot Captain Steven Hiller. The film cemented Smith’s A-list status, paving the way for a range of blockbuster roles. Set during an alien invasion, the movie finds mankind fighting for survival, with Hiller punching an alien in the face during one of its most iconic scenes. To this day, the movie has made more than $800 million at the worldwide box office. Due to scheduling conflicts, Smith didn’t reprise his role for the recent sequel. Given that the sequel disappointed in every conceivable way, it was perhaps a wise move.


#7. Concussion

IMDb rating: 7.1

IMDb user votes: 73,168

Release year: 2015

Director: Peter Landesman

Despite covering the important issue of football-related brain injuries, this 2015 drama underperformed at the box office and didn’t wow critics as much as it mildly appeased them. Based on a true story, the film stars Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, the neuropathologist who first discovered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in former NFL players. In his quest to expose the truth, Omalu faces resistance from one of the country’s most powerful organizations.


#6. I, Robot

IMDb rating: 7.1

IMDb user votes: 445,683

Release year: 2004

Director: Alex Proyas

Adapted from the famous novel by Isaac Asimov, “I, Robot” is set in a future world where humanoid robots are omnipresent, but controlled by a set of firm laws. After a leading robotics scientist commits suicide, technophobic detective Del Spooner (Smith) is called in to investigate. As his probe deepens, Spooner suspects that foul play is afoot, and a rebellious robot is to blame.  


#5. I Am Legend

IMDb rating: 7.2

IMDb user votes: 610,366

Release year: 2007

Director: Francis Lawrence

Based on a novel by Richard Matheson, this sci-fi thriller takes place years after a deadly virus has wiped out the bulk of humanity, and turned the remaining humans into aggressive, zombie-like mutants (a.k.a. "The Infected"). Accompanied by his loyal dog, sole survivor and military virologist Robert Neville (Smith) wanders the streets of New York City by day and stays out of dark areas, since that’s where the mutants thrive. Neville tries to locate other survivors against a ticking clock, and works on a cure. Meanwhile, The Infected are closing in.  


#4. Enemy of the State

IMDb rating: 7.3

IMDb user votes: 207,386

Release year: 1998

Director: Tony Scott

From acclaimed action director Tony Scott comes this gripping techno-thriller, in which an unwitting lawyer (Smith) becomes the target of a vast government conspiracy. Arguably ahead of its time, the film finds the lawyer running from a slew of surveillance technologies, eventually receiving help from a communications expert named Edward "Brill" Lyle (Gene Hackman). Working together, the two men turn the tables on the people tracking them down.


#3. Men in Black

IMDb rating: 7.3

IMDb user votes: 456,359

Release year: 1997

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

This compulsively watchable film stars Will Smith as Agent J, a former cop who’s enlisted to help regulate and monitor alien interactions on Earth. With no time to waste, he and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) set out to stop an extraterrestrial “bug” from getting its hands on a powerful galaxy. Should they fail, it could mean the end of the world. It’s just another day for the Men in Black. Fully capitalizing on Smith’s spectrum of talents, the film’s release was accompanied by a wildly popular music video.


#2. Seven Pounds

IMDb rating: 7.6

IMDb user votes: 259,959

Release year: 2008

Director: Gabriele Muccino

In this 2008 drama, Smith plays a man with a dark secret, who embarks down a path of redemption. Specifically, he seeks out seven strangers, and changes their lives for the better, falling in love with one along the way. Owing to the unexpected romance, Smith’s character is also transformed. Despite a drubbing from the critics, the movie warmed over most its viewers, earning more than $160 million at the worldwide box office.


#1. The Pursuit of Happyness

IMDb rating: 8

IMDb user votes: 389,196

Release year: 2006

Director: Gabriele Muccino

Before Smith worked with director Gabriele Muccino on “Seven Pounds,” they collaborated on this incredibly successful drama. Inspired by a true story, the film stars Smith as Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman who ends up with custody of his young son (played by Jaden Smith). Desperately in need of money, Gardner takes on an unpaid internship as a stock broker and has six months to prove his worth. A success story in more ways than one, the movie made a killing at the box office. It’s also Will Smith’s highest-rated film to date.


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