Not even Will Smith can save the free fall of director M. Night Shyamalan.
The man who burst on the scene with “The Sixth Sense” way back in 1999 continues his string of cinematic stinkers with “After Earth” – a science fiction adventure film that is a lifeless mess.
Shyamalan doesn’t take all the blame.
This is a huge misstep for Smith, who co-stars with his son, Jaden. “After Earth” is clearly intended as a way for father to pass his action star torch to son, but it only provides more fodder for detractors who feel as through there’s too much nepotism in the Smith family.
The Smiths play father and son in a future society that has fled Earth after the planet became too dangerous for humans. When a training mission forces Kitai (Jaden) and Cypher (Will) to crash land on Earth, Kitai must embark on a journey across the planet to recover a beacon that will signal help for himself and his badly injured father.
This is just one extended bore fest, and everyone involved appears to be on autopilot.
The film is full of one-dimensional dialogue and the acting is just as bland, especially Will Smith, who recites every line with a nearly inaudible whisper.
The action sequences look like rehashed scenes from better films and the effects are subpar as well.
This is a dreadful experience, with not much positive I can say – except that once this film makes its way to cable it will make a great cure for insomnia.
Also in theaters
While “After Earth” is rather dull, this week’s other new release, “Now You See Me,” (B) is an engaging little summer caper. With a talented cast and a twisty bit of storytelling, this is an adequate bit of entertainment that is enjoyable in the moment – even if it is rather implausible if you think about it.
Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco play street magicians who become overnight sensations after they appear to rob a bank in France during a Las Vegas show.
They become the target of an FBI agent named Dylan (Mark Ruffalo), determined to figure out how they did it. But Dylan’s investigation doesn’t deter the foursome, who slowly reveal that the bank heist is only part of a greater plan.
This is a slick and well-crafted caper flick, with the cast – which also includes Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman – all doing their part.
The screenplay, co-written by five people, including Ed Solomon and Boaz Yakin, is peppered with snappy dialogue and clever red herrings, while director Louis Letterier provides the same visual flair that he brought to “The Transporter.”
I will concede the film does get a little too twist-happy – the final turn requires a leap of faith by the audience. It’s the kind of twist where everything that preceded it could have fallen apart like a house of cards with one change of direction in the plot.
Even with that I enjoyed “Now You See Me.” It’s a film that entertains while you are watching and doesn’t require much thought afterward.
“Now You See Me” is rated PG-13 for language, some action and sexual content and is now playing at the Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.