Will Smith is on fire: a big blockbuster nearly every year for as long as I can remember, and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to stop anytime soon. Now for any of you who follow his work, you’ll know that Smith has played the last-action-hero or beaten-down-nice-guy-against-the-rest-of-the-world role before: I, Robot (2004), I Am Legend (2007), The Pursuit of Happyness (2006). Personally, I have loved him in every one of these roles because there was always something unique about his character that compelled me to watch him succeed through all the struggles put before him.
Earlier this year when I finally had a chance to see Hancock, I have to say I felt more than a little giddy to see what Smith would bring to the role. To me, there’s something about Smith’s whole aura that just makes me want to watch him do what he does. He has a full range of emotions at his disposal, not to mention his consistency in picking interesting characters that have unbelievably difficult obstacles put before them.
On the surface of I, Robot, Smith is a detective bent on solving the murder of a leading scientist who was also his friend. Underneath the surface of this detective exterior is a character that hates robots. This is a problem for him in the overly robot-reliant society in which he lives, and it makes his struggle all the more difficult and, as such, compelling to watch. In I Am Legend, Smith is again the lone man (in this case, literally) trying to find the cure to a disease that has killed and/or mutated the remaining human population into vicious, zombie-like carnivores. Throughout the film, we see the protagonist’s clockwork routine that he has undoubtedly developed through near-death experiences fighting the once human, now zombie-like creatures that only come out at night. This routine is what has kept him alive, and the meticulousness of it is real and tangible, thus making him an interesting protagonist to watch succeed. In ThePursuit of Happyness (which was based on a true story), Smith plays a salesman trying to sell these ridiculously difficult to sell x-ray machines, all while his family is falling apart at the seams. Despite this, his strange knack for memorizing numbers and his insanely driven work ethic are character attributes that make him incredibly interesting to watch as he struggles to get what he wants. No surprise that this, too, was a film I loved. Now let me get to Hancock.