Netflix Original Bright
|Release Date||December 22, 2017|
Sometimes, Netflix manages to secure a Hollywood star for one of their Originals. Brad Pitt in War Machine, Chadwick Boseman in Message from the King and Rooney Mara in The Discovery. Just to name a few.
The streaming service managed to capture Will Smith for Bright and as you can tell with the advertising everywhere, they are proud of this Netflix Original. Heck, the trailer even showed up at my screening for The Last Jedi, which was a surprise. With snobby authoritative figures showing up to movie festivals stating streaming movies have no place in awards and events, Netflix has an obvious agenda here; to place streaming at the same level as the cinema.
With Bright, they have taken a few steps backward with this buddy cop/fantasy action drama.
What’s Netflix Original Bright?
Where do I begin? Bright is set in a world where Orcs, Elves, and Humans coexist. There was some war two thousand years ago that makes the Orcs heavily disliked in society. Reasons for this are frustratingly vague. There are fairies, too – nobody likes the fairies. If you have seen the trailer, Will Smith, who plays cop Daryl Ward, openly beats one of these fairies to death declaring that “fairy lives don’t matter today!”. His police partner is an Orc, Nick Jakoby, played by Joel Edgerton, who is discriminated against every day by his colleagues, making it rather uncomfortable for Daryl as he has to work with him. Quite clearly there are racial politics embedded in Bright.
So David Ayer’s latest movie is a statement about our society?
For the first thirty minutes, yes. After that, it is about something wholly different, which I will discuss. If you view Bright through American glasses; the Orcs are discriminated against, cops brutally beat the race daily in less privileged neighborhoods, and everyone assumes the Orcs have bad intentions. The one Orc in the police force is there to prove a point – that Orcs do matter, and can make a difference to society. What the start of this movie represents is obvious, almost too obvious. Bright needn’t make it this political. It does not feel like that type of movie. At least try and make it less flagrant.
What is the rest of the movie about?
Remember when David Ayer released Suicide Squad and, as critics, we defended the director saying we wish there was no studio interference? Well, David has either suffered the same corporate problems again, or he is starting to make himself a track record of convoluted, sloppy movies with a promising narrative baseline.
Daryl and Nicky answer a call to a neighborhood disturbance. Whilst checking out the area they come across a wand. Wands are extremely powerful and cannot be touched unless you are a Bright (don’t ask). There is dialogue about an ancient Dark Lord returning to destroy society. Apparently, this is all linked to “that war” two thousand years ago. Accompanying them is an elf called Tikka who was at the crime scene. She is trying to prevent the wand going back into the wrong hands. In this world, magic no longer exists, so every person imaginable – gang members, corrupt racist cops, and Orcs – want this all-powerful wand.
The rest of the movie is cat and mouse. The action ensues. Daryl and Nicky are trying to protect the wand, protect themselves and stop the rise of the Dark Lord. Some of the Orc themes return and it does try to explain what is going on.
So what is wrong with it then?
Netflix Original Bright does not know what movie it wants to be. For most of the movie, the two cops are trying to run and shoot but amongst all this, it is trying to sell a buddy cop drama with jokes that are not funny and action moments that really do not entertain. The movie tries to, with a series of tiresome exposition, explain what is happening, but it is so jumbled and nonsensical that you do not care. There is no reason to care. It builds up no character up whatsoever. Daryl is a cop; he is Will Smith being Will Smith. Nicky is an Orc who everyone hates but provides no reason for us to warm to him. By the way, the fact that Joel Edgerton is unrecognizable is a credit to the makeup. Anyway…
Despite the clunkiness, the misuse of fantasy themes and zero direction, Bright is just so, so boring.
So there is nothing good about it?
Visually it is okay and to be fair I do like the premise as an idea. Unfortunately, it obviously has no one putting it on the right path. Like Suicide Squad you are put on a journey and you are left feeling virtually empty. Admittedly, it is not as clunky as the director’s predecessor, but the problems remain. The movie spends the first thirty minutes throwing political messages at us, which any normal person would agree with, but overall, it never fits with the storyline.
There is going to be a sequel to this, so it can only get better or worse. Take your chances and do not watch this. Oh, and as for Will Smith starring in this as an appealing factor – you know what performance he is going to provide. Whilst I haven’t got any immediate problem with his acting, like Suicide Squad, his limited acting capacity cannot save this.
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Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.