Will Smith returns from a light 2014 to once again prove that he is one of the best in the business, and unlike his last major appearance, After Earth, he is giving you the Will Smith many have come to love.
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
Characters & Story
For many years Nicky (Will Smith) has been in the con game. It was something passed down from generation to generation, and Nicky is quite good at it. However, as his father taught him, and beat into his head by calling him mellow, love can make you soft. Enter Jess (Margot Robbie) who starts off as some sort of protégé, but ends up becoming a lover. However, with time, and with Nicky regaining focus after being a bit too swept up in love, he decides to focus on the con more than the girl. An action which causes problems once Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro) and Owens (Gerald McRaney) are the next targets.
First and foremost, though not mentioned in the Characters & Story section, there is a need to address the character of Farhad (Adrian Martinez) who seriously was 2nd to only Smith in this film. Hell, sometimes he was funnier and more likable, to be honest. For Farhad, even with the past not being huge, took advantage of all of the familiarity Martinez has, since you have likely seen him before, and used everything you ever thought about him to make him into an interesting, and rather funny, character.
Now, as for everyone else, Will Smith and Margot Robbie make a good team and have good chemistry, but Smith being less Fresh Prince and more Detective Mike Lowrey, from the Bad Boys franchise, made this movie. For with every curse word, every con, and him playing a sort of anti-hero, it felt fresh. For, as a Shadow and Act critique said, pretty much Will Smith playing a good and/or likable, usually non-threatening Black guy, character is getting old. So with him playing someone with an edge like he did in Bad Boys or even Hancock, there is something different, likable, and even exciting.
Especially with a story like this which has a handful of twist which will likely throw you off. For while, for most of the movie, I was able to predict what was to happen, then I got smacked hard as hell in the face with one big surprise. One which left my head turned as I was trying to add everything up.
Perhaps the main issue with this film is that, after awhile, it does feel like Nicky talks too damn much. Which, perhaps, could be all part of the con and trying to have you, the viewer, not focus on what he is doing but, either way, there were times I wished they would have cut Smith’s lines down. For while, as noted, he is very likable, at the same time you get that old feeling that maybe there is a little too much reliance on him and that there isn’t enough confidence in the cast to spread the weight of the movie around more.
Overall: Worth Seeing
I won’t pretend as if this is the best Will Smith has ever done, but it does feel like he is realizing he can’t stick to being everyone’s favorite lovable Black guy and still expect to be the $100 million dollar man. Which isn’t to say this film should be considered an experiment, for he is tapping into his Bad Boys persona here, but with him taking losses, and he seeming like he won’t get back up from every encounter, it becomes hard to tell who is conning who, and whether the one ultimately being conned is you. Hence the Worth Seeing level for I honestly felt like I got my money’s worth.