Arguably Netflix’s biggest film yet, David Ayer’s Bright has finally hit the streaming service. It got some pretty bad reviews yesterday from critics, some even calling it the worst movie of 2017. Is it really that bad? Of course not. Is it great? Not at all, but there are things to like here in this flawed yet entertaining fantasy adventure.
Let me start off by saying I really like David Ayer as a director, his films like Fury and End of Watch are standouts for me. His last film, the Academy Award-winning Suicide Squad, is my least favorite of his directorial efforts. It’s partly because of how ambitious he was with it, using what seemed like a different song every scene and some interesting choices made with the villain. Bright is a step up from that film, but there’s still a sense of something is still missing; a solid script.
As a film where humans and fantastical beings like Orcs and Elves live in modern times, this is probably Ayer’s most ambitious story yet. His direction here is solid, and he tries very hard to get the audience immersed into this gritty and magic filled world. The opening has graffiti art introduce the mystical concepts the film has but in a realistic (low-budget) way. It left a bit to be desired though, but it wasn’t enough to throw me off.
As soon was we get to the interaction between Jakoby (Edgerton) and Ward (Will Smith), the film seemingly finds its stride. We are slowly introduced to the idea of Orcs being hated by the police force and how Jakoby is pretty much the nicest Orc to ever live. This is when the movie is at its best, contemplating and discussing the meaning of acceptance and race in modern culture. I was on board with this, ready for the plot to kick in, but that’s where the most of my disappointment comes from.
Will Smith and Joel Edgerton shine through the dirt, both figuratively and literally, and make up some of the best parts of the film. Their dialogue and chemistry is quite great, even the Orc makeup is pretty seamless here. Within their friendship lies the main message of the film, and that’s of discrimination and acceptance. It hits you over the head a couple of times with it, but it doesn’t make any less important or relevant.
As I said before, David Ayer does a solid job. The visuals are gritty similarly to Suicide Squad, but I believe it looks much better here. The action is intense, bloody, and just extremely entertaining. A lot of gun fights here, but the Elves fighting is probably my favorite out of them all. There’s enjoyment to be had here, and I certainly believe the Netflix crowd will be willing to shut off their brain for a bit and have fun.
The biggest problem of the film lies on the script at hand. While there are some neat story choices made, others will make your head hurt. One of the problems has to do with Tikka, elf that is with Ward and Jakoby through the film. Nothing is really given to her character to make her interesting, and she’s mostly used as the an exposition speaker. It’s way too convenient and without spoiling it, makes her character even less real than an Elf could be. The villain of the film, played by Noomi Rapace, is fine as a 2-dimensional character but there was way too much background info left out.
That’s also another problem, the mythology of it all is sort of lost by the end. We get tons of exposition of how it was like thousands of years ago, but we never really get a sense of the scope of things. I think it should’ve been more show than tell, as saying the same exposition over and over doesn’t make me more invested.
Will Smith and Joel Edgerton are the MVPs here, while Ayer’s direction is engaging and exciting. The plot is a bit messy, almost lazy at times, sort of like Suicide Squad but better. David Ayer is a good director and I want to see him do more of theses gritty films, yet I think his next project should be lower budget film to really exercise his storytelling skills. As Netflix as already announced, a sequel to this film has already been green-lit; here’s to hoping it has more time to develop a more solid screenplay.