Bright

bright-rev Bright  (2017)    Netflix/Action-Fantasy    RT: 117 minutes    Rated R (pervasive language, strong violence, brief nudity, drug use)    Director: David Ayer    Screenplay: Max Landis    Music: David Sardy    Cinematography: Roman Vasyanov    Release date: December 22, 2017 (US)    Cast: Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry, Edgar Ramirez, Ike Barinholtz, Happy Anderson, Dawn Oliveri, Matt Gerald, Margaret Cho, Brad William Henke, Jay Hernandez, Veronica Ngo, Alex Meraz, Joseph Piccuirro, Enrique Murciano, Scarlet Spencer, Andrea Navedo, Kenneth Choi, Bobby Naderi.

Rating: NO STARS!!!

 I can hear the story pitch to Netflix execs now. “Will Smith plays a cop who partners with a mythical creature to save the world from an evil supernatural being. It’s Lethal Weapon meets Lord of the Rings! It’ll be a smash!” It sounds silly when spoken out loud but terrible when it plays out on screen. Bright is easily one of the worst movies of 2017. It might have been the worst if not for the execrable Mummy reboot this past summer. It comes very, VERY close to unseating the Tom Cruise fiasco but doesn’t quite do it. Still, this is one mother of a bad movie. It’s a blend of a lot of better movies; here’s a list: Lethal Weapon, Alien Nation, District 9, End of Watch (also directed by David Ayer), Lord of the Rings, Men in Black and Judgment Night. Bright might have been better with a lighter touch but it’s directed with a heavy hand and a mile-long mean streak. Everything about it is just wrong, wrong, WRONG!

bright poster Smith plays Daryl Ward, an LAPD officer in an alternate present where humans live and work side-by-side with orcs, elves and other such fantasy creatures. In this world, elves represent the 1% (they’ve taken over Beverly Hills) while the orcs inhabit the lowest echelon of society. Everybody hates orcs; they’re ugly, they’re all criminals and can’t be trusted. Ward is partnered with Nick Jakoby (Edgerton, Midnight Special), the country’s first orc cop, and he doesn’t like it one bit. He hates all the attention, being ostracized by his fellow officers and, most recently, the pressure from Internal Affairs to help them find grounds to fire Jakoby. He’s just back to work after being shot and there’s some question about Jakoby letting the suspected shooter, an orc, get away.

 One night, Ward and Jakoby respond to a disturbance call and find a house littered with bodies including the still-living half-body of an elf woman. There’s one survivor, an elf named Tikka (Fry, The Darkness), who has in her possession a magic wand. Only a select few can touch a wand and live, they’re called “Brights”. The wand’s rightful owner is an evil elf named Leilah (Rapace, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) who wants to bring about the return of the Dark Lord or some such nonsense. Others, like an elf agent from the Federal Department of Magic (Ramirez, Joy), would like to get their hands on the wand as well. Some of Ward’s colleagues attempt to kill him and Jakoby and steal the wand for themselves but he puts them down first. Now he’s on the run with his partner and Tikka.

 What’s so tragic about Bright is that it could have worked with a more tongue-in-cheek approach. The premise is admittedly silly. Why not have some fun with it? You know, inject some humor. I mean, you have Smith in the lead, put him to good use. Instead, Ayer takes the same gritty approach he did with 2012’s End of Watch (a great cop flick, btw). He’s so heavy-handed and obvious when it comes to the orcs and their place in society. It’s clear he’s trying to make a statement about our own society with scenes like the one in which cops are seen beating orcs in the street. The public doesn’t want an orc cop because they don’t know where his loyalties lie. Is he a cop first or an orc first? I admit it’s an interesting idea for a movie but do the makers have to take it so seriously? How seriously can you take a movie that involves magic wands and fantasy creatures?

 They have a lot of nerve calling the movie Bright; it’s so dark you can’t see what’s going on most of the time. Maybe it’s for the best. What I could see was positively awful. The makeup effects are terrible. Whoever was responsible did a pretty half-assed job on the orcs. The whole affair is one step up from a community college D&D party. This is Smith’s worst movie since the vile vile mess that was Wild Wild West. We don’t get good-natured, wise-cracking Smith, we get angry, profanity-spewing Smith. One of the first things he does in the movie is try and kill a fairy that’s been flying around outside his house. I guess they’re like garden pests or something. His character follows the usual trajectory when it comes to his relationship with Jakoby but by the time we get there, it doesn’t matter because Smith’s character is so unlikable. Edgerton at least seems to be trying but to no avail. And why is Rapace wasting her time with this crap? Why are any of them wasting their time? It boggles the mind.

 Bright is a horrible movie. It’s too long. It’s ugly to look at. It’s unpleasant from start to finish. The screenplay is a mess. It wants to be a fantasy adventure, a gritty urban cop thriller, a buddy comedy and a social commentary. The story elements keep getting in the way of each other, there’s no consistency. It should be mentioned that Bright is a Netflix movie. It isn’t playing in theaters. It cost $90 million to make. If it did play in theaters, it would surely bomb. I doubt it will fare much better on Netflix. Then again, there are a lot of suckers who will order the movie because it stars Will Smith. Don’t be fooled, this isn’t Men in Black IV or Bad Boys III. It’s just bad, man. 

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