Will Smith movies, ranked
Will Smith was destined to be famous. Once known as the Fresh Prince, the rapper’s career exploded when he became the star of his own hit TV show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Turning on the charm, oozing with confidence and busting out dance moves or one-liners on a whim, Smith’s infectious brand of comedy and undeniable talent led him to become a household name.
His larger-than-life screen presence is the stuff of dreams and after six colourful, fun and hilarious seasons of the lovable 90s sitcom, he was ready to hitch his star to the big time. Taking a leading role opposite Martin Lawrence in Michael Bay’s buddy-cop actioner Bad Boys, Smith proved he could act on film. Following it up with Roland Emmerich’s box office blockbuster, Independence Day, just sealed the inevitable… that Smith was born to have a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.
“West Philadelphia born and raised”, the bankable and powerful actor and producer has gone on to win four Grammys, landing four Golden Globe and two Oscar nominations. Smith’s far from done… but since it’s his birthday on 25 September 2021, we decided to rank seven of his films now streaming online.
IMDB rating: 5.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 26%
Will Smith stars opposite Will Smith in Gemini Man. It’s quite breathtaking (and even scary) to see how far visual effects technology has come and this action sci-fi thriller shows just how close we are to the age of full-fledged digital actors. While the jury’s still out when it comes to ethics around image ownership and casting deceased stars, it seems a whole lot easier to manage when actors play opposite themselves.
Ang Lee is a director who’s constantly pushing cinematic boundaries – moving from a digital tiger in Life of Pi to a digitised human in Gemini Man. It’s no secret, this actioner’s big name star and astonishing visuals take centrestage amid eye-popping action sequences. Gemini Man’s compelled by an entertaining and thought-provoking man in the mirror concept and throws us in the deep end as the straightforward versus story unfurls.
Bad Boys II (Netflix)
IMDB rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 23%
Bad Boys was a major calling card for its co-stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence and director, Michael Bay. Moving from music videos to action movies, Bay broke out along with TV comedy actors Smith and Lawrence. The long-awaited sequel reunited these three heavy-hitters some eight years later. Living up to the promise of the original, Bad Boys II paired the two loose-cannon narcotics cops on another wild mission involving a Cuban drug cartel.
Reigniting the fun Smith-Lawrence core chemistry that powers the series, this over-the-top buddy cop actioner delivered the slick action comedy goods in now trademark Michael Bay style. These “Bad Boys for Life” thrive on big car chases, loads of explosions, plenty of funny one-liners and pulsating action, making this a classic and rewatchable popcorn blockbuster.
Seven Pounds (Netflix)
IMDB rating: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 27%
Will Smith’s early acting career was characterised by spectacular blockbusters, which tend to be geared around action-orientated storylines and incredible visuals. Known for his ability to draw an audience, he likes to remind people he isn’t just a big movie star. Having done this over the years in films like Ali, Concussion and The Legend of Bagger Vance, he decided to re-team with Italian director Gabriele Muccino based on the critical acclaim of The Pursuit of Happyness.
Seven Pounds is a blend of City of Angels and 21 Grams, following an IRS agent whose secret agenda has the power to change seven lives. Supported by Rosario Dawson and Woody Harrelson, Smith breaks type with an affecting and soulful performance. Seven Pounds is a touching, intimate journey of redemption with a powerful message that manages to intertwine melancholy and the triumph of the human spirit. This compelling film has melodramatic tendencies and a sombre mood, but serves as a wonderful showcase for Smith’s amazing range.
IMDB rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 69%
Will Smith has cultivated a reputation for being a ladies man. From his days on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air his love interests included: Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell and let’s not forget Queen Latifah. Now that he’s single again, he’s been connected to Focus and Suicide Squad co-star Margot Robbie, extending this notion beyond on-screen romance. This echoes his near-perfect casting as Hitch, playing a New York matchmaker and “Date Doctor”.
While on a challenging assignment to help a shy accountant overcome his fear of romance, Hitch inadvertently discovers his own perfect match in a gossip columnist. This is a breezy, entertaining and fun romantic comedy with Smith starring opposite Eva Mendes and Kevin James. Teaching a clumsy yet lovable James to boogie on down and be cool, it’s not long before Hitch ironically discovers just how much of a lovefool he becomes around the woman of his dreams.
Bad Boys For Life (Netflix)
IMDB rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 76%
Playing into the “one last time” and “I’m getting too old for this sh*t” spirit of Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, comes Bad Boys for Life. The lovable Miami partners are older and now trying not to die (or dye) for other reasons. When vengeful assassinations wreak havoc across the city, it’s not long before Mike finds a target on his back. Now faced with their greatest challenge, the buddy-cop pairing have to face one of their toughest cases involving mother and son drug lords.
While the Bad Boys formula is still strong with the Captain doing damage control and his maverick cops keeping him snowed under in paper work, it would’ve been better if the trilogy was rounded up by Michael Bay. Fast cars, gunplay and one-liners, the slick Bad Boys for Life has everything you’d expect but just isn’t quite as fun or fresh as Bad Boys.
IMDB rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 68%
Will Smith is a headline star and proves this without doubt in I Am Legend, able to carry a feature film singlehandedly. As it’s directed by Francis Lawrence, who’s best known for The Hunger Games and Constantine, you already have an idea of what to expect from this post-apocalyptic action adventure thriller. I Am Legend follows a survivor (and his dog) in New York City who appears to be the last remaining person on Earth following an outbreak that mutates humans into monsters.
Playing into aspects around the Covid-19 pandemic such as empty cities and lockdown living, I Am Legend has drawn renewed interest as Smith plays a scientist searching for a cure. While an empty New York may not have the same visual impact it once did, these sights and sounds now have an eerie familiarity. It’s curious to see Smith playing a man not subjected to the rat race living with seemingly unlimited freedom in an urban jungle. Exciting action sequences, a fine performance from Smith and surreal post-apocalyptic imagery make this so much more than just a neo-zombie flick.
Men In Black (Netflix)
IMDB rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 92%
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are Men in Black, a powerful underground agency that oversees and polices extraterrestrial activity. After Bad Boys and The Fresh Prince, it was clear that Will Smith could do action comedy and theme tunes in his sleep. Tweaking the buddy movie dynamic with a side order of science fiction, out-of-this-world visual effects and comical energy, Smith helped craft another piece of 90s pop culture memorabilia.
Armed with another earworm of a theme tune, this loud sci-fi action comedy and comic book adaptation follows an NYPD cop who’s recruited to MiB. Getting the grand tour, it’s not long before he’s thrust into a mission investigating and eradicating a bug race of aliens following a UFO crash landing. Aiming for all-out fun, this wacky film stays true to its origins in an attempt to supersize sci-fi, action and comedy. Who better to lead the charge than the larger-than-life Will Smith and deadpan Tommy Lee Jones?