20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
“A new Will Smith movie! What’s it about?”
That question sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? That’s because you already know. Sure, there are a few odds and ends you might not have caught wind of, but you’re never totally in the dark on the plot of one of Will Smith’s gestating blockbusters. Because they’re all pretty much exactly the same.
Every one of the Fresh Prince’s (is it reductive to still call him that?) headliners commits to a rigid formula of pieces so interchangeable that were he alive today, we know who Eli Whitney would deem his favorite Hollywood star.
Brilliance — the new movie that TheWrap is pinning to the 43-year-old actor — is no outlier: In the film, Smith plays a “gifted” government agent who saves a future society from terrorist attacks. Yes, that’ll fit quite snugly into the proverbial fill-in-the-blank game that is the rest of his filmography…
Set in Miami in the present, Will Smith (a cop) saves the city from criminals with the help of Martin Lawrence.
Set in New York and D.C. in the present, Will Smith saves the world from aliens with the help of Jeff Goldblum and the president.
MEN IN BLACK
Set in New York in the present and the past, Will Smith (a cop) saves the world from aliens with the help of Tommy Lee Jones.
ENEMY OF THE STATE
Set in D.C. in the present, Will Smith saves himself from the government with the help of Gabriel Byrne.
WILD WILD WEST
Set in D.C. in the past, Will Smith (a cop) saves the president from a criminal with the help of Kevin Kline.
Set in Chicago in the future, Will Smith (a cop) saves the city from robots with the help of a robot.
Set in New York in the present, Will Smith saves Kevin James from heartbreak with the help of Eva Mendes.
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
Set in San Francisco in the past, Will Smith saves his actual son from poverty with the help of hope and perseverence.
I AM LEGEND
Set in New York in the future, Will Smith saves himself from zombies with the help of a dog.
Set in Los Angeles in the present, Will Smith saves the city from criminals (and himself) with the help of Jason Bateman andCharlize Theron.
Set on Earth and Nova Prime in the future, Will Smith saves his actual son from aliens and animals with the help of Scientology.
So that makes four New Yorks and three D.C.s, three counts of saving the city, two of the world, and two of his son, three movies that involve aliens, three that involve criminals, four movies where he’s a cop… and in just about all of them, he’s “gifted.” Welcome to the game, Brilliance.