Collateral Beauty is another Will Smith awards vehicle, but this time it doesn’t hit home as well as some of his past awards season hits. The film is par for the course and about what you’d expect from Will Smith, but it just doesn’t have the emotional attachment that many of Smith’s previous films have evoked. In addition, if you’ve seen the trailers for Collateral Beauty, while you may have a general idea of the concept of the film, the execution is a bit different once you see the movie.
The trailers for Collateral Beauty imply that Howard (Will Smith) is seeing the human embodiments of Love, Time and Death after he has succumb to the grief of losing his six-year-old daughter. In actuality, his co-workers and long-time friends have hired actors to take on the roles of Love, Time and Death. While it’s a minor difference on paper, that changes the film from a retelling of A Christmas Carol to just another Will Smith awards vehicle.
Misleading trailers aside, the first half of Collateral Beauty is a little slow. It’s made clear that Howard is grieving over the loss of his child, but his business is ailing because of this and his co-workers and friends have a lot at stake. Throughout this process we slowly learn about the troubles his co-workers are going through. While the focus is on Howard, all of the problems facing the main cast are fairly significant.
Edward Norton plays Whit, Howard’s long-time friend and business partner. Kate Winslet takes on the role of Claire, and Michael Peña plays another business partner, Simon. We won’t spoil the film by going into the problems plaguing each of these individuals, but everyone has something they need to overcome.
Everyone having some sort of problem is where one of the issues with the film arises. Instead of centering on Howard, the focus is split among all of the business partners. In a film that only runs just over 90 minutes, that doesn’t leave a lot of room to actually care much about the ancillary characters. In fact, Keira Knightley as Love (Amy), Jacob Latimore as Time (Raffi) and especially Helen Mirren as Brigitte (Death) offer more for the audience to care about than most of the primary cast.
How the movie plays out almost makes it feel as though there were too many ideas at play here. Collateral Beauty isn’t a bad movie by any means, but there was an opportunity to offer so much more than what we get with the end product. The audience cares about Howard and there’s both amusement and enjoyment from Love, Time and Death, but everything else feels tacked on. The stories revolving around the other business partners are not fleshed out enough to make the audience truly care about these people.
Collateral Beauty is a film that works well as counterprogramming to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but it could have been much more than what it ended up as. The film is well acted, but there isn’t enough character development for the audience to truly be invested in anyone other than Will Smith’s character. If you’re looking for another Will Smith emotional film, this will fill that void, but don’t expect too much from it.
Collateral Beauty: [yasr_overall_rating size=”large”]
About Collateral Beauty
Synopsis: Retreating from life after a tragedy, a man questions the universe by writing to Love, Time and Death. Receiving unexpected answers, he begins to see how these things interlock and how even loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty.
Director: David Frankel
Writer: Allan Loeb
Stars: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet
Runtime: 1 Hour, 37 Minutes