Jacob Richardson | 24/12/2017
This clunky, dirty buddy-cop film set in a world two thousand years after Lord of the Rings is an absolute dumpster fire that will make you long for the burning pits of Mordor.
Following the first Orc cop on the LAPD, Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), and his recently returned to duty partner, Daryl Ward (Will Smith), Bright blends elements of the mystical with the existing socio-economic crises in Los Angeles. Elves are the 1%, fairies are mercilessly killed like mosquitoes, and Orcs are still vilified for siding with the Dark Lord 2000 years ago. Nick and Daryl face incredible racism from their friends, family and from the other cops on the force, which all comes to a head when, as they respond to a call, they stumble upon a mythical magic wand and the young Elvish bright who can use it. Now they find themselves in an all-night running gun battle, as they try to protect the bright and her wand from dissident elves, a federal magic task force, hispanic gangs, Orcish families and corrupt cops.
Written by Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra) and directed by David Ayer (Suicide Squad), Bright takes an interesting idea and does absolutely nothing with it. Whereas you might have imagined both of these gentlemen had hit rock bottom in terms of creative output relatively recently, here they seem to take pride in demolishing the language of cinema to deliver a boring, incoherent and poorly made mess.
The politics in Bright are undoubtedly the most offensive part of a film that generally tends towards offending on every possible level. Such thinly masked real world criticisms as “Fairy lives don’t matter today” are at the better end of a screenplay that takes normal human dialogue, throws it out a tall window and instead gives us an unintelligible mess of one-liners. The intricate racial politics of current, real-world Los Angeles are largely eschewed for poor 1% analogies and on the nose, broad stroke African American stereotypes. It’s a creative decision that should have been expected as soon as production company “Trigger Warning Entertainment” showed up in the opening credits, but it’s offensive, disappointing and distressing all the same.
But Bright wouldn’t be the lost cause that it is if the political undertones were the only thing wrong with this film. The wider problem is in the filmmaking itself. As we saw with Ayer’s Suicide Squad, he has a penchant for discount music video flare in his filmmaking, and this is present still in Bright. Whether it’s the fake looking violence, the oddly stylised opening credits or the sub-par magical effects, Ayer seems intent on making it look like this film was directed by an iPhone effects generator app.
Joel Edgerton and Will Smith do the best with what they have, with Edgerton mercifully unable to be seen under all of that make up. But their enemies, primarily in the shape of Noomi Rapace as an evil Elf, are incredibly underwritten and designed. Even when Ayer tries to infuse some action in between the Elvish, the Orcs and the humans, it feels low budget; as if we were watching a commercial. Bright cares not for intriguing action set pieces or exploring this world; all it cares about is getting through it’s runtime.
It all adds to a feeling that watching this on the big screen would feel somehow wrong. It’s pure, unadulterated tripe, and while Netflix may have given this a big movie budget ($90 million), it doesn’t seem like this was ever destined to hold up on the big screen.
Bright is absolute garbage. Thankfully, you can watch it on your laptop while simultaneously playing solitaire; although, even then you might be giving it more thought and care than Ayer and Landis did when they made it.