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The Will Smith Comeback Just Hit a Speed Bump

A very bad trailer, a beef with Batman, and lots more ‘Narcos’: this is Decisions, Reviewed

Getty Images/Ringer illustration
Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Every day, in Hollywood, movies are made. They are reviewed. Every day, in Hollywood, decisions are made. They are not reviewed.

This is Recent Decisions, Reviewed.

1. Will Smith has decided to … oh, no.

We’re here to connect. Love, time, death. Now these three things connect every single human being on earth.

New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

We long for love.

New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

We wish we had more time.

New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

And we fear death.

New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

Those are just the first 20 seconds of the trailer for Collateral Beauty, movies’ latest attempt at ruining everything. The next two minutes are not much better: Edward Norton and Kate Winslet plagiarizing their therapists; Helen Mirren playing the Brad Pitt part from Meet Joe Black and wearing a beret (I know that sounds incredible but you have to trust me, it’s very bad, OK it’s not so bad, OK yeah fine that part’s incredible); Keira Knightley yell-mumbling, “I AM LOVE”; lots and lots of shots of [fails out of metaphor school, lies on résumé, gets high-paying job at metaphor factory] dominoes, for some reason; and most heartbreaking of all: Will Smith — looking lost, and growing old, and moving from scene to scene with “I’ve made a huge mistake” vigor.

He made a huge mistake.

The premise of Collateral Beauty is — you know what, let’s not waste each other’s time. But after this terrible summer had begun to give way to a promising fall, I had honestly started to think that things were looking up. Or at least that Will Smith — who might literally be no. 1 on a certain generation’s “we’re invested” list — had maybe gotten parts of his groove back, or found a lane (is having medium-good chemistry with Margot Robbie a lane?) worth traveling down, or learned (no thanks to Jai Courtney) a lesson or two. That he wouldn’t try to, say: Frankenstein together “Crash with less potent adjectives,” and “Love Actually but no one fucks,” and “Magnolia amid a modern musical landscape that frankly takes Aimee Mann for granted,” into some gross and regrettable cocktail of unquenched Oscar Thirst.

He’ll fail with this bid, I expect. But it’s the thought that counts — and this one negative-counts. Will: We trusted you. You were doing the sexy con man, weirdo emeritus, wisecracking action hero thing. You were finally in the winner’s circle again. You were back.

And now you turn around and make a decision like this one.

GRADE: C-plus

2. Mel Gibson has decided to start a feud with Zack Snyder.

As you may or may not have heard, Mel Gibson is mounting a comeback. The goal: Go from being perceived (REALLY RATHER FAIRLY) as The Worst Person In The World Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever to being perceived as Just Another Jerk In Hollywood. The plan: Release Blood Father, a grimy straight-to-iTunes action thriller in which he plays a recovering alcoholic (we get it), recently out of jail (we get it), who is trying to make things right (we get it) by saving his daughter (we … I don’t know, maybe?) from a vengeance-minded gang of sicarios (OK, you lost me).

Wait — that’s a terrible plan.

I think we need another one. How about: Directing Hacksaw Ridge, his first directed feature in 10 years — a World War II drama about the first conscientious objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor. That … sounds like a really good plan, actually. People love World War II movies. And this one? I mean, wow, it checks every box: We’ll get a nice little pacifism vibe going — and we’ll blow shit up. That’s genius. This comeback might actually have a chance.

But here’s the thing. If we really want to make this comeback work — I mean, really, really work — it still needs something extra. That final triumphant flourish to push it over the edge. That cherry on top. How about …




During an interview with Deadline this week to promote Hacksaw, Mel Gibson put on his Braveheart paint and put the Whole Goddamn System on trial:

“I look at [big-budget summer movies] and scratch my head. I’m really baffled by it. I think there’s a lot of waste … What did they spend on Batman v Superman that they’re admitting to? … And it’s a piece of shit.”

Don’t get me wrong: Mel Gibson sucks. And I don’t really care one way or the other if his comeback is successful. He’s a bad person, and a good movie star, and an overrated director, and I can watch or not watch his old movies whenever I want. But all the same: There is something extremely funny and telling — and sad — about imagining Mel Gibson surveying the current Hollywood landscape … looking near and far for something more unpopular than himself, to punch up to, to position his comeback against in his bid to be liked again … and settling on …

“DC’s cinematic universe.”

GRADE: C-minus

3. Netflix has decided to announce seasons 3 and 4 of Narcos.

Season 2 of Narcos ends with [NARCOS + WIKIPEDIA SPOILER ALERT] the death of Pablo Escobar.

To recap: Narcos is a TV show about Pablo Escobar, who is dead now, in real life and on Narcos.

To put it in mathematical terms:

(1) Narcos = Pablo Escobar.

(2) Narcos — Pablo Escobar = zero.

To put it in the most simplified terms possible:


No more Pablo. No more Narcos.

Narcos is over.

Or. Is. It. Tuesday, Netflix announced seasons 3 and 4 of the [pulls on rigged internal-metrics slot machine that says people love Fuller House … spinning … spinning … slowing down … lands on … NARCOS • NARCOS • NARCOS] hit show, with a teaser subtly captioned “The Blow Must Go On.” The teaser ends with the reveal of next season’s (villain? Hero? Relax, it doesn’t matter) main character, Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela (Damian Alcazar), a signal that the show will turn its focus to the Cali cartel. Cool. By which I mean, I signed up for a show about Pablo Escobar, why would I ever care about that. By which I mean: Narcos!

Executive producer Eric Newman shed some light on this succession plan, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “Narcos is about cocaine and cocaine continues beyond Escobar.” Yes. Ugh. That is such a good quote. Give me one more. I know I’m being greedy, and I know I don’t deserve it, but I need another quote, just like that, except maybe even better. Please?

Clarifying Narcos’s endgame, executive producer Jose Padilha told Variety: “We’ll stop when the drug trade stops.” Newman then added: “We’ll stop when you stop. That’s our pact with America.”

To be clear: Narcos is never going to end. I know they announced only two more seasons, officially, and I’m glad you’re taking them at their word, I love that about you — but what happened Tuesday is unambiguous: Netflix just rented the world’s largest fixed-wing aircraft, wrote “NARCOS IS FOREVER, BITCHES” on a neon banner in cursive, and then flew it during halftime over the sold-out football game of life. And here we are now, together, sitting there — looking up — and whispering, “Thank you, Narcos, thank you,” under the pink night sky. It’s beautiful.

Here are some scribbled down ideas — I know they’re rough, but bear with me — for Narcos seasons 5 through 10:

Season 5: A chemistry teacher gets terminal cancer and, with the help of his drug-dealing former student, starts cooking and selling meth in order to set up his family financially after he’s gone.

Season 6: They get deeper and deeper into the drug game.

Season 7: Honestly maybe they get too deep.

Season 8: A 10-part documentary about the kid in your middle school class who had the good pot.

Season 9: A serialized remake of Denis Villeneuve’s acclaimed 2016 drama Arrival but overdubbed so that every word said by Amy Adams to the aliens is “narcos.”

Season 10: A game show where the game is “you have to guess if Traffic holds up,” that’s it, that’s the whole game.

Anyway, we can workshop these. I’m really glad that Narcos is coming back.

GRADE: A-plus