Arguably, Will Smith became a sci-fi genre staple with the release of Men in Black way back in 1997. We’ve since seen him in everything from the very good I Am Legend to the very bad After Earth, but we’ll see him lace up the ol’ sci-fi boots once more for Brilliance.
Smith will co-star alongside Noomi Rapace for Brilliance, which is based on novelist Marcus Sakey’s eponymous, ongoing trilogy chronicling a brewing civil war in a world where powerful “brilliants” are pitted against normal humans. As per the novel’s synopsis:
In Wyoming, a little girl reads people’s darkest secrets by the way they fold their arms. In New York, a man sensing patterns in the stock market racks up $300 billion. In Chicago, a woman can go invisible by being where no one is looking. They’re called "brilliants," and since 1980, one percent of people have been born this way. Nick Cooper is among them; a federal agent, Cooper has gifts rendering him exceptional at hunting terrorists. His latest target may be the most dangerous man alive, a brilliant drenched in blood and intent on provoking civil war. But to catch him, Cooper will have to violate everything he believes in—and betray his own kind.
For his part, Smith will play protagonist Nick Cooper, meaning that he’ll be fighting mutants instead of aliens for a change. Rapace’s character has not yet been announced, but with production set to begin in August, that will change soon.
Brilliance has been in the works since 2013, when Godzilla production company Legendary Pictures nabbed the film right. David Koepp, the hired pen behind movies like Jurassic Park and Mission: Impossible, has since been helming the script, so this one ought to be similar in tone.
Whether Smith can carry the film without killing a single alien, though, is the real question. His most recent films, Men in Black III and After Earth garnered $179 million and $60 million in the US, respectively, so whether his role as a sci-fi staple is strong remains to be seen. As least this time around, though, Smith will have Rapace to play off of.
Sure, she’s no Tommy Lee Jones—but she’ll do.