Is Will Smith’s star on the decline? Audiences and critics aren’t in love with Collateral Beauty and we can see why.
In the time directly following the passing of his child, Howard wrote three letters. One to love, one to death and one to time, each with a different message. Slowly accepting a life of despair after a tragedy that shook his entire way of living, Howard (Will Smith) begins to seek answers from the cosmos around him. Only for it to unexpectedly start showing him how the world is interconnected. Revealing the Collateral Beauty in even the worst situations that life can throw at him.
The plot of the movie is driven by three of Howard’s associates (Edward Norton, Michael Peña, Kate Winslet) who attempt to take control of the hip New York advertising agency that they’re all heavily involved in. Through some questionable methods his associates get their hands on Howard’s letters and try to use them to force him out.
So instead of following a normal thought process of “maybe he’s grieving, he might need some space of possibly some more help” they think, “yep this is it, this is how we’ll get his share of the company. He is crazy after all and now we can show it”.
What initially seems like what most of us would think is corporate espionage or something of the likes is what the director, David Frankel attempts to pedal as a pseudo feel-good story despite the stories extremely ropey initial looks.
So, how do they show it? Why how else? By hiring actors (Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Jacob Latimore) to play the abstracts that Howard wrote to and having them infiltrate his life. You know, that old story!
Usually, a movie that is filmed in New York plays largely off this fact by taking advantage of beautiful backdrops and high-profile buildings to play out scenes in. However, there’s a distinct lack of that “New York magic”, almost like Collateral Beauty could have been filmed in Dublin, London or any other generic cityscape and you wouldn’t really have questioned it. You can’t help but feel that“Collateral Beauty” was filmed in New York simply so that they could say that it was filmed in New York.
When all of the wildly unnecessary plots and subplots are finally tidies up and we’re given the picturesque final shots the movie is just blah and not memorable.
When the credits started to roll, I was just left with an oddly angry feeling. How could a movie with a cast of such excellent star-studded nature really be so disappointing? Don’t get me wrong, once or twice during the movie, there were times when I thought “Oh, that’s kind of clever” but overall it was disappointing and massively forgettable.
After the critical failure of Suicide Squad, Will Smith needs a hit and quick. Collateral Beauty was a calculated risk that just doesn’t pay off for him or the rest of the cast.