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Best and worst Will Smith movies

  • Best and worst Will Smith movies

    Will Smith started as a rapper in the duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, winning a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance. He got his first major film role in “Bad Boys” while starring in the hit TV sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Shortly after, “Independence Day” and “Men in Black” made him a superstar and one of the most bankable Hollywood stars of all time. Smith epitomizes the successful crossover artist who dominates television, music, and movies with a celebrity persona that combines distinct charisma with undeniable talent. His is stardom infused with a sense of upbeat goodness. Smith’s not known for acting as much as he is for inhabiting characters and imbuing them with the winning attributes of the Smith personality: wit and affability, even within tension and hardship.

    Smith has been nominated for Academy Awards twice, losing both times. He was nominated in 2002 for his work in “Ali.” Denzel Washington won that year for “Training Day.” He was nominated the second time in 2007 for “The Pursuit of Happyness.” Forest Whitaker won that year for “The Last King of Scotland.” Both of Smith’s nominations were for roles where he played real-life characters: the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali and the entrepreneur Chris Gardner.

    Smith doesn’t always win with critics. He often appears in formulaic genre films, and when he branches into dramas as with “Concussion” or “Collateral Beauty,” he takes a hit in reviews. Smith’s movies are known for their huge box office receipts, and sometimes dismal reviews, as with “Hancock,” the superhero film popular with fans, but panned by critics. Smith’s likability and humor seem to transcend critical opinion. Fans flock to franchises like “Men in Black” and “Bad Boys,” and science-fiction action films like the recent “Bright” on Netflix, which was popular despite its bad reviews. Occasionally, Smith’s appeared in notable flops, like “Wild Wild West” (which he chose over “The Matrix”) and “After Earth.” However, both films were profitable worldwide, though still considered financial disappointments. Smith’s effortless charisma shows up onscreen in a warmth that conveys depth and goodness, and humor with soul.

    Stacker compiled IMDb data on feature films starring Will Smith as an actor and ranked these films according to their IMDb user rating, with ties broken by the number of votes. Cameos, uncredited roles, and production credits without acting roles were not considered.

    Read on to find out the best and worst Will Smith movies.

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  • #28. After Earth (2013)

    - Director: M. Night Shyamalan
    - IMDb user rating: 4.8
    - Votes: 183,936
    - Metascore: 33
    - Runtime: 100 min

    “After Earth” wasn’t a financial disaster, but it was considered under-performing. Critics skewered M. Night Shyamalan’s sci-fi adventure, which pairs Smith with son Jaden, again as a father/son duo in their second film together, as they crash land on a harsh and inhospitable Earth. Smith called “After Earth” the most painful failure of his career and “excruciating” because it involved his son.

  • #27. Wild Wild West (1999)

    - Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
    - IMDb user rating: 4.9
    - Votes: 145,997
    - Metascore: 38
    - Runtime: 106 min

    This adaptation of a 1960s television series remains one of the most expensive flops of all time, still considered a major disappointment despite garnering a meager profit worldwide. “Wild Wild West” seemed a brazen attempt to repeat the blockbuster formula that succeeded with “Men in Black.” This steampunk action Western featured the same director and the same movie star. Smith produced an original rap song for the movie just as he had for “Men in Black.” The song “Wild Wild West” was a pop chart hit, but Smith’s cowboy charm couldn’t elevate the film.

  • #26. Made in America (1993)

    - Director: Richard Benjamin
    - IMDb user rating: 5.0
    - Votes: 14,885
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 111 min

    Smith has a small part in this comedy about artificial insemination starring Whoopi Goldberg as the mom of a young black woman (Nia Long) who discovers her sperm donor dad is white guy (Ted Danson). Smith provides scene-stealing comic relief in this supporting role early in his film career.

  • #25. Gemini Man (2019)

    - Director: Ang Lee
    - IMDb user rating: 5.6
    - Votes: 7,442
    - Metascore: 39
    - Runtime: 117 min

    “Gemini Man” uses the digital process known as “de-aging” to present Smith’s character at his real age, and also at the age of his younger clone, Junior. Smith portrays both characters, with the young clone performed via motion capture. Visually, Junior has a startling look, both surreal and bizarre. “Gemini Man” was a massive critical and financial flop, grossing only 62 million worldwide with a production budget of 138 million, and garnering a reported loss of 60 million dollars.

  • #24. Shark Tale (2004)

    - Directors: Bibo Bergeron, Vicky Jenson, and Rob Letterman
    - IMDb user rating: 6.0
    - Votes: 157,118
    - Metascore: 48
    - Runtime: 90 min

    Smith voices a little fish, Oscar, who falsely claims to have slain a shark in this animated family film. Oscar appears with Smith’s signatures: jutting ears and a tendency for one-liners. The story takes place in an undersea land that seems a market nod to an audience taste for “Finding Nemo” style universes. Like many films in Smith’s canon, “Shark Tale” was both a hit with audiences and a dud with critics.

  • #23. Suicide Squad (2016)

    - Director: David Ayer
    - IMDb user rating: 6.0
    - Votes: 549,613
    - Metascore: 40
    - Runtime: 123 min

    Smith plays the assassin Deadshot and brings characteristic charm to the role, managing to be a cold-blooded killer and wisecracking good dad at the same time. Smith chose this DC universe tentpole film over an offer to do the “Independence Day” redux, explaining he that wanted to go forward and do something new.

  • #22. Men in Black II (2002)

    - Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
    - IMDb user rating: 6.2
    - Votes: 321,333
    - Metascore: 49
    - Runtime: 88 min

    Critics weren’t impressed with this franchise sequel, but the formula worked for fans who made it a box office success. The second film reunites the major players in familiar scenarios. Smith’s comic riffs play off Tommy Lee Jones' stoniness alongside the customary spectacle of CGI aliens.

  • #21. Bright (2017)

    - Director: David Ayer
    - IMDb user rating: 6.4
    - Votes: 152,630
    - Metascore: 29
    - Runtime: 117 min

    “Bright” was one of Netflix’s most expensive films, costing a reported 90 million, and starting the streaming service’s trend toward huge budget films starring major movie stars. Critics weren’t impressed, but Netflix execs suggested that "critics are pretty disconnected from mass appeal." Audiences were undoubtedly drawn in by Smith’s celebrity.

  • #20. Hancock (2008)

    - Director: Peter Berg
    - IMDb user rating: 6.4
    - Votes: 419,184
    - Metascore: 49
    - Runtime: 92 min

    Smith’s affable persona goes against type as the superhero Hancock. He’s a depressed alcoholic convict in a role that still displays the actor’s charm, despite the premise that he’s an immortal with special powers who needs help with his image—details that contribute to an “unmissable layer of race relations.” Charlize Theron plays his ex-wife and fellow immortal, but the potential progress of an interracial relationship gets thwarted by obstacles in the couple’s path, such as losing super powers if they’re together and the fact that her husband, Jason Bateman, is his PR guy. As with many Smith action vehicles, “Hancock” was a box office success and critical flop.

  • #19. Focus (2015)

    - Directors: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
    - IMDb user rating: 6.6
    - Votes: 196,248
    - Metascore: 56
    - Runtime: 105 min

    “Focus” notably cast Smith opposite white actress Margot Robbie in a love story that didn’t openly address race in its story of an outlaw and his protégé. The film drew racist attacks, but garnered decent worldwide box office results while being one of the relatively rare Hollywood films to center interracial romance.

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