Will Smith, once the go to leading man in Hollywood, hasn’t been having the best of luck recently with his film choices. His sports biopic, ‘Concussion’ will be remembered for little else other than the Oscar ‘controversy’, which is a shame as the film itself was quite enjoyable. More recently there was of course probably the most bashed film of the year, ‘Suicide Squad’, despite Smith’s performance as Deadshot being one of the few good things in the film this comic book movie hasn’t exactly been a stellar entry into his filmography. So with all that in mind could his new movie ‘Collateral Beauty’ do anything to salvage 2016 for the fresh prince?
Unfortunately this film is actually the weakest of Smith’s efforts this year. The story centres on Smith’s character, Howard, and a tragedy that he is going through. However, one of the biggest issues that the film faces is having such a crowded narrative. With such a large ensemble cast, the film tries to give each character a significant story and subsequently removes and core focus and just clusters the narrative. As well as this the story is just too obvious in parts, certain characters connect with others and from the get go the plot points are made glaringly unsubtle. There is an in your face sentimentality to this film and the story thinks it is more emotional than it actually is. The only character storyline to be even mildly effective was the one featuring Michael Peña, however different people may relate to different story lines. The flaws in the narrative are unfortunate as some isolated scenes are rather good, raising really interesting points about many issues but these moments always lose their value due to the weakness of the writing overall. The tone as well contributes problems, with attempts at humour alongside quite dark subject matter never really aligning.
As I have already mentioned this film stars an impressive ensemble cast, however to start with I found many of the performances to be under par. Some fare much better than others and I think this has a lot to do with the individual storylines of their characters, some being much luckier in this respect than their co-stars. Michael Peña comes across best and many of the other cast members do eventually ease into their roles; Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren and Naomie Harris have moments which will help you forgive their involvement here but so often it’s the terrible dialogue that does them in. The film is full of fluffy lines which sound very deep but when you really think about them make absolutely no sense at all. Will Smith isn’t awful, but he’s been much better and this certainly won’t be a leading role he’ll be remembered for. ‘Collateral Beauty’ just goes to show that even the most talented of casts can’t make a film good without more support in terms of writing.
The film isn’t boring and thankfully doesn’t even encroach on a two hour running time but this isn’t enough to recommend it. The film is so messy and tries to do way too much, some specific scenes showcase how powerful this drama could have been if certain narrative elements had of been left out but the writing is never refined enough. It’s at times painful to watch such a talented cast spew such cringe-worthy dialogue and it’s further confirmation that a good cast doesn’t mean a good film.
Rating – 5/10
Question: Which films have you been most disappointed in which have a great cast?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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