Bright (David Ayer) 2017

So Bright is Netflix’s attempt at being a summer blockbuster (despite it being December). Its rumored cost is 90 million which I’ll just guess outspends other Netflix movies like Okja and War Machine. Bright is about an alternate modern day where mystical creatures like Orcs and Elves live side by side with humans. Human cop Ward (Will Smith) and new Orc cop Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) find themselves in deep trouble when they come across a magic wand and a Bright (someone who can wield magic). Ward and Jakoby are on the run from everyone who wants the wand as it essentially grants any wish.

So you may think as other reviewers do that this movie is about race relations but with the not so subtle metaphor of different mystical races taking the place of current races (ala Zootopia with animals and race). You would also be a fool in thinking David Ayer has any depth to him at all. First off any idea this movie has ideas should be whisked away in the first five minutes when Will Smith makes a “Faerie lives don’t matter” joke. You see its funny cause it’s not. But even if we discard that joke as just his attempt at being not PC but still examine the movie critically the movie either doesn’t have anything to say about race or forgets to say it. Yes the first ten minutes or so we get the broad strokes of something with Elves being the upper class twits and Orcs living in slums. But as soon as the plot proper gets going and our protagonists find the magic Macguffin all that subtext gets thrown out the window and it becomes a standard action movie. So to make a long story short, this movie has nothing to say about anything.

So how does it stand up as just an action movie. Okay to start off this movie REALLY wants to be The Warriors. Our two cops have to survive a hellish night while being chased by different groups be it government Elves, evil Elves, Orcs, gangsters, evil cops, etc. I don’t have a problem with the movie trying to be the Warriors but the execution is again lacking. For one the buddy cop element between Ward and Jakoby just didn’t work for me. Ward is an asshole leaving you to wonder why Jakoby wants to work with him and at times Will Smith does his Will Smith routine which falls flat. You see, he calls Orcs “Shrek”…that’s funny right? Yeah, that’s the level of writing we’re dealing with. Edgerton is endearing as Jakoby, but again the chemistry isn’t there like in another Ayer film End of Watch. Second, despite there being mystical elements in the movie, I dunno, it just never feels like they are properly utilized. The orcs don’t display fantastic strength and magic is only used as a deus ex machina at times. I would have liked if they spent more time in actual world building instead of throwing things out there and hoping something sticks. Finally the action is okay at best. Again, you are never really told about the power of Elves and Orcs so you don’t know what the stakes are when the human Ward tries to fight them. Most of the time it is shakey cam shooting in the dark which might be okay for some but for me I don’t care about.

Bright has been called by some the worst movie of the year. And, yeah, I suppose its up there. I’m sure in the grand scheme of this year there are 10 worst examples of film making. But in terms of wasting talent, money, and potential, Bright is up there in terms of shitting the bed.

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