When Will Smith plays against type, the results are about as mixed as you’d expect from an actor who made it to the top of the A-list in the mid-1990s and has stayed there ever since almost entirely due to his natural charisma, undeniable star power and impeccable comic timing.
He’s gotten serious on a number of occasions in the intervening decades, and he’s earned two Academy Award nominations in the Best Actor category to show for it, but the misses have been just as frequent as the hits. For every Ali or The Pursuit of Happyness there’s been a Seven Pounds or Concussion, both of which weren’t awful by any stretch of the imagination, but were painfully mediocre and carried a cynical air that they’d been precision engineered specifically to garner awards season recognition.
One of the actor’s most notorious misfires was just recently added to the Netflix library, but that hasn’t stopped Collateral Beauty from making it into the Top 10 most-watched films list already. A star-studded ensemble drama with fantasy elements sounds intriguing on paper, but after a promising first act, the story comes completely off the rails when a series of laughable twists and turns begin making their presence felt.
Full of contrived coincidences and cloying sentimentality, it’s a waste of Will Smith, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Naomie Harris, Michael Pena and more, but despite a paltry Rotten Tomatoes score of just 14%, Netflix subscribers have given Collateral Beauty a firm thumbs up, although it’ll be interesting to see how long it manages to stick around the higher end of the viewership rankings over the coming days once the initial curiosity factor subsides.