The Lord of the Rings meets the hard-hitting Los Angeles streets in the Netflix original that fails to live up to its own premise at nearly every turn.
Set in an alternate present-day where humans, orcs, elves and fairies have been coexisting since the beginning of time, this action-thriller directed by David Ayer (Suicide Squad, End of Watch, writer of Training Day) follows two cops from very different backgrounds. Ward, a human (Will Smith), and Jakoby, an orc (Joel Edgerton), embark on a routine night patrol that will alter the future of their world as they know it. Battling both their own personal differences as well as an onslaught of enemies, they must work together to protect a young female elf and a thought-to-be-forgotten relic, which in the wrong hands could destroy everything. – RT
Director David Ayer (Suicide Squad, S.W.A.T., Street Kings) along with Writer Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra) have teamed up to deliver an interesting world filled with high society Elves, low-class orcs, and a variety of other familiar fantasy creatures living in a modern day setting in Los Angeles that fails to live up to its own potential.
About the only thing I enjoyed about Bright is its boldness to take on a fantasy world and join it together with a world that closely resembles our own all the while constantly reminding us of the political and social structure that plagues many groups of people(s). However, anything beyond that is heavily bogged down by atrocious writing and typical Ayer-isms that make you wonder how either of these two still get hired in Hollywood.
Currently sitting below 30% on Rotten Tomatoes from respected critics in the industry, Bright has shown that once again audiences and critics alike are at odds with what makes a good and entertaining movie. Considering that audiences have it at just about an 89%, it is fascinating that neither one of these groups takes into account that a movie can be good but boring or bad but entertaining. I was very interested in the world that Bright sets up as the possibilities really are endless but even in a universe that is a decent mix between a Lord of the Rings world while taking place in a Blue Bloods like setting, nothing exciting or all that interesting really takes place.
Left: Joel Edgerton as Jakoby – Right: Will Smith’s new career low.
David Ayer has built a setting that constantly has to remind you that the streets are hard, so hard in fact that any wrong turn in a dangerous neighborhood could end in a flurry of bullets whizzing buy just for looking at someone the wrong way. With so much potential, its a shame that nothing else delivers on any front. Even more unfortunate is that Ayer can’t seem to break away from his one-trick routine of a gritty cop mold, even when so much literal magic is given on a silver platter.
I will hand it to Will Smith, who stands out at delivering the only lines in the movie that didn’t make me cringe in my seat every time someone opened their mouth, but putting him at odds with the rest of the movie’s laughable acting really does a number on separating Smith’s acting talent from the rest of this expensive slog of a film.
Edgerton’s Orc character Jakoby looks like a mess from head to toe with some of the worst makeup design in modern cinema with very little in the ways of character development or progression. However, I will say on occasion I found his delivery with some lines endearing and almost worthy of a chuckle, almost, but very quickly is all that washed away by Landis’ poor writing.
In this world, Elves are the highest echelon of society with unparalleled wealth and class that puts them at the complete opposite end from the Orcs that are seen as nothing more than criminals and trash beneath the feet of the humans and every other social class. Once again the potential here could have led to some very interesting character development and interactions but instead the only ones to get the spotlight are Will Smith’s Ward and Edgerton’s Jakoby, despite the plot of the film centering around a strange female Elf that accompanies the two of them in an evening of chaos and mayhem.
The only thing that matters to Ayer and Landis, clearly, is Smith and Edgerton’s back and forth, as is apparent but the completely incoherent plot and the additional character companionship in the only female protagonist that seems to be of any consequence, Tikka the Elf (played by Lucy Fry) who wields a magic wand. What’s interesting about Tikka, which is barely anything at all, is that she and any other Elf in the film resembles the vampires from the Underworld series. With flips, glowing blue eyes, and incredible accuracy with a firearm, the only thing that separates the Elves from the Death Dealers of Underworld is that the latter need only come out at night to drink blood. Their pale skin and mannerisms are near identical with an overabundance of stoic silence.
Overall, Bright felt like a bunch of Ayer’s previous buddy cop films and tropes were recycled and thrown into middle-earth with very little explanation or exposition that would’ve helped pull viewers into this world of magic and deception. The movie doesn’t even come close to living up to its potential and if nothing else is worthy of only a single viewing played in the background for mindless occasional distraction, but if there was even a single film by David Ayer that you did not enjoy, Bright is a film you should definitely stay away from.