Will Smith is the Oscar-winning star of such blockbusters hits as Independence Day, Men in Black, Hitch, I Am Legend, Suicide Squad, and 2019’s Aladdin. The actor once even held a world record that proved he’s the hardest working star in Hollywood. But even with all he’s achieved, some of Smith’s best movies have become somewhat forgotten. Here are five Smith movies fans should revisit.
‘Six Degrees of Separation’ (1993)
Before he started TV’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Smith had never acted before. But in this — his third movie role — he showed early promise of the acclaimed performer he would become. Six Degrees of Separation costars Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing and remains one of the riskiest roles of his career.
Although Smith would spend the next several years proving himself to be a charismatic hero, here he plays a con artist named Paul who targets wealthy New York couples. Six Degrees of Separation even features the one and only instance of Smith going all-in with Method acting, which the actor admitted he would never try that again.
Six Degrees of Separation is now streaming on HBO Max.
‘Enemy of the State’ (1998)
Released between Men in Black and Wild Wild West, this political thriller often gets lost in the shuffle. After all, Enemy of the State is sandwiched between one of Smith’s biggest hits and one of his most crushing disappointments. And the fact that so few people discuss it is a real shame, considering how strong it really is.
Smith stars as a lawyer who gets inadvertently caught up in a government conspiracy. Director Tony Scott brings the same stylistic panache here that he does with films like True Romance and Man on Fire. And Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, and Regina King offer solid supporting turns. Enemy of the State was a critical and commercial hit.
Enemy of the State is streaming for free with ads on Tubi.
‘I, Robot’ (2004)
Throughout the 1990s, Smith became the king of blockbuster sci-fi action films. So with this film from director Alex Proyas (The Crow), the actor takes a break from fighting aliens to face a horde of robots. I, Robot is, in fact, more of a mystery than an action thrill ride, though it does feature plenty of spectacle and Oscar-nominated visual effects.
Despite mixed reviews, I, Robot became a box office smash. The film earned $353 million worldwide against a $120 million production budget, according to Box Office Mojo. Yet, even with that success, the movie is often overlooked when fans consider Smith’s career. But Proyas’ visual flair and a solid lead performance make it worth a revisit.
I, Robot is streaming on HBO Max.
‘Men in Black 3’ (2012)
Sure, it feels strange to include the second sequel to one of Smith’s most iconic movies here. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Men in Black 3 remains underrated. Perhaps that’s because of how disappointed fans — and indeed Smith himself — were with how 2002’s Men in Black 2 panned out. But the franchise recovers nicely here.
In this installment, Agent J (Smith) travels to the 1960s to stop a notorious alien (Jemaine Clement) from killing the younger K (Josh Brolin). Come for the offbeat laughs and sci-fi action, but stay for Brolin’s pitch-perfect impression of Tommy Lee Jones. Men in Black 3 even features a poignant twist that is a fitting conclusion to the MIB trilogy.
Men in Black 3 is available to rent on demand.
In 2016, Smith shared the screen with Margot Robbie as Deadshot and Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad. But the year before, the actors co-starred in a much better film. Bringing this list full circle, Smith plays a con artist for the first time since Six Degrees of Separation. And the years of confident performances pay off handsomely.
The movie neatly weaves together romance, comedy, and drama to create a film that feels unique for Smith. He and Robbie share crackling chemistry, and the screenplay by writer-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Crazy, Stupid, Love) keeps viewers guessing throughout. Focus was another box office hit but deserves more recognition.
Focus is streaming on HBO Max.