Tag Archives: Will Smith

Suicide Squad

8 Aug

There’s a drought across the land, and I’m not talking about the arid state of farming or sweeping brush fires, but the strangled flow of quality films on their way into theaters. We’ve already suffered through“Batman v Superman,” and Matt Damon, while jacked up for “Jason Bourne,” was hogtied by an inert script. Now here comes “Suicide Squad,” another DC Comics entry (think Superman and Batman), looking to take a bite out of the Marvel pie (think Captain America and The Avengers). Hyped as a quirky anti-superhero flick, the project showed great promise during incubation; now, in realization, it’s a busy, bombastic bounce that bites off more than director David Ayer can chew.

080616i Suicide SquadIf you’re not familiar with Ayer, he’s a guy’s guy, the testosterone-probing hand behind such brooding character studies as “Harsh Times” and “Fury.” He doubles down here, tackling script-writing duties as well, and in that you’d think he’d own the material and put his stamp on it. But what becomes clear in the first few frames, as we get a seemingly ceaseless recap of the potpourri of criminal personas that will become the Squad, is that Ayer’s not a very nimble multi-tasker. We’re left down deep in the liftoff-weeds water when there should be action, heroics and a sardonic edge – i.e., plot and forward motion.

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After Earth

2 Jun

‘After Earth’: Nepotism gone awry on an Earth gone bad

By Tom Meek
June 1, 2013


I like Will Smith, I do, but I can’t say I am liking his choice of films as of late. Sure, the upcoming “Winter’s Tale” has a ton of firepower to it, but Mr. Smith purportedly turned down Django in “Django Unchained” because he felt the role wasn’t a lead. Then there’s that rumored remake of “The Wild Bunch” that has the Peckinpah faithful hearing fingernails on the chalkboard, and now this ill-advised project with M. Night Shyamalan, who’s made exactly one quality film, a few intriguing follow-ups and been on a disastrous slide ever since.

060113 After EarthIf you’re wondering why the actor, who holds an obvious penchant for sci-fi, would jump in the water with a man on his last breath, the answer is likely his son. “After Earth” is not a Will Smith movie, but a Jaden Smith movie. The young thespian held his own with dad in the underrated and wholly affecting pull-yourself-up drama “The Pursuit of Happyness” and was effective in “The Karate Kid” reboot. But this, this is Jaden’s coming out party, a big-screen bar mitzvah for Papa Smith to declare to the world, “My son is an actor.”

Well, not so fast, Will.  Continue reading

The Pursuit of Happyness

20 Mar

The Pursuit of Happyness

 A career-capping performance for Smith

By TOM MEEK  |  February 20, 2007

Not what you’d expect given the title or star Will Smith’s wholesome persona — no, not at all. Based on the real-life travails of Chris Gardner (featured on a 20/20 segment), Happyness is a rags-to-riches yarn that latches onto the dark underside of the journey. Smith plays Gardner in circa 1980 San Francisco. Not much is going right for Chris. His medical-sales business is tanking (he sells bone-density machines door-to-door and no one’s buying), he can’t pay the rent, and his wife (Thandie Newton giving a lot of depth to an unsavory role) leaves him. Not to mention he has a five-year-old son (Smith’s son, Jaden, who steals a few scenes from his dad) to look after. Chris needs money, and fast. The answer arrives when he sees a smiling, happy stockbroker driving a Ferrari. He schemes endlessly to land a job at Dean Witter, and when he does (by solving a Rubik’s Cube and telling a great story about why he showed up to the interview looking like a garbage picker), he learns that it’s an unpaid internship and that at the end of six months only one from the flock of interns will be hired.

That’s just one of the many cruel realities that keep pushing Chris toward the gutter. His daily juggling act is a harrowing ordeal: drop son off at day care, make cold calls at Dean Witter, sell scanners on lunch break, make more cold calls and fetch higher-ups coffee, pick up son and try to find a place to sleep at night. Yes, Chris and his son are homeless throughout most of the story, and just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do. But through it all he keeps his eyes on the prize. His perseverance and resourcefulness are infinite, admirable, even uplifting.

The issues of race and ’80s greed never overtly raise their head, but their sphere of influence is palpable. Smith turns in a career-capping performance, and director Gabriele Muccino ingeniously turns the material inward, cautioning us all to be grateful for what we have, for we’re closer to the edge than we think.