When the trailer for Collateral Beauty (2016) first released, it had me very intrigued about what exactly the story would revolve around. The trailer showed a broken and distraught Howard Inlet (Will Smith) looking for a therapeutic way to move on from his daughter’s death. Within the trailer, it showed Helen Mirren (Red, Red 2) playing the titular character of Death. It later showed the characters of Time (Jacob Latimore) and Love (Kiera Knightley). They all meet with the main protagonist after he “mails” them a letter each day in order to numb his pain and look for answers.
See this premise would be interesting, if it wasn’t spoiled within the first twenty minutes of the movie. I tend to try not spoil anything about a film in order to keep it a surprise for the viewer, but this was very disappointing. I was intrigued in the idea of Death, Time, and Love visiting a human being to help that person cope with a sudden loss. Sounds promising, but Collateral Beauty (2016) falls flat and is one of the most disappointing films of 2016.
The overall story revolves around a character named Howard Inlet (Will Smith) who also serves as the film’s main protagonist. The film shows how he copes with the loss of his daughter. He mails a letter to Time, Love, and Death in order to cope with his loss, but unfortunately, he is failing as an advertising executive and his co-workers and “friends” are worried about him and their jobs. His “friend” Whit Yardsham (Edward Norton), Simon Scott (Michael Pena), and Claire Wilson (Kate Winslet) decide to read one of Howard’s letters and discovers what he has been doing since his daughter’s death.
I try my best not to spoil anything for the viewer, but this is a plot point that must be exploited. Simon, Claire, and Whit then decide to hire ACTORS to portray Death, Love, and Time. This happens literally within the first twenty or so minutes in the film, but this was not shown or referred to in the film’s original trailer. The trailer lied about the film’s plot and almost everything in the trailer tries to “move around” this plot point. The three co-workers then reveal their intention to record Howard talking to the three actors and then digitally remove them from the picture to make it seem like Howard is only talking to himself so that way he gets fired for being “crazy”. Now keep in mind, these are his “friends” doing this, so to put it simply, in the first twenty or so minutes of the film, you’re watching something completely different than what you had originally expected.
There really is no standout moment here, almost none of cast is memorable. The most interesting part of the film is Howard’s interactions with Death, Time, and Love. Then you remember that everything is forged to get Howard fired, and you really don’t care what happens. The reason as to why this review is so short is that there is little entertainment here. There is some good acting, but good acting doesn’t save a bad story. Howard is the only character throughout the whole movie that proves interesting. Unfortunately, you tend to pity him, not due to his daughter’s death, but because his “friends” are manipulating him so cruelly.
- Will Smith does a good job of playing the broken character of Howard Inlet.
- Some humor in the film makes the overall disappointment easier to cope with.
- Some memorable lines of dialogue, but only some.
- The first twenty minutes sum up the whole movie.
- The “plot twist” ruins the whole movie.
- The two-minute trailer was more interesting than the whole film.
- Only Will Smith stands out, only one character stands out in an all-star cast.
- Helen Mirren, Edward Norton, and Kate Winslet are not given enough material to truly bring out their characters.
- Soundtrack is forgettable.
This review is extremely short, mainly due to how little I can say besides how disappointing this film is. Collateral Beauty (2016) is extremely disappointing, it showed an interesting premise but was ruined by a terribly written “plot twist”, underdeveloped characters, and a lackluster story. It is a shame, because with an all-star cast a film can do so much, but Collateral Beauty (2016) only does so little.
Final Score: 4/10
Kevin Scott Flakes
New Line Cinema
Village Roadshow Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures
December 16th, 2016
96 Minutes ( 1 hour and 36 minutes)