BRIGHT (NETFLIX) (2017)
SYNOPSIS: He's stuck with a partner nobody wants in a city on edge. And tonight, a mystical weapon will unleash chaotic forces.
Netflix has been teasing Bright for over a year, their first blockbuster and probably the first in streaming history as well. Unfortunately, critics have not been kind to the fantasy actioner starring A-lister Will Smith. So is Bright worth all the hype? Is the script by Max Landis (Chronicle, Victor Frankenstein) worth $3.5 million and does it look liked a $90 million movie on the small screen?
Set in an alternate Los Angeles where humans live side by side with fantasy creatures liked Fairies, Orcs and Elves. Our hero, LAPD Officer Daryl Ward (Will Smith) is reluctantly paired up with the only Orc in the police force, Nick Jakoby (a totally unrecognizable The Great Gatsby’s Joel Edgerton). When an evil elf named Leillah (Noomi Rapace) loses herpowerful magic wand to her more sympathetic subordinate, Tikka (Lucy Fry), all hell breaks loose as Ward and Jakoby is caught in a war involving Leillah, gangstas and orcs as the duo went all out to protect Tikka from her enemies.
The Harry Potter franchise and Lord of the Rings trilogy benefitted from an original source material something which Bright obviously lacks. But Landis should be applauded for his efforts in establishing a wildly fantasy buddy-cop action thriller with a backstory about humans and orcs which date back 2000 years ago. We heard dwarves being mentioned in conversation; a dragon can be seen flying above L.A. sky and centaurs as police officers. We guess there’s much more to Landis’ tale that it’s likely too early to totally write off Bright.
Director David Ayer who charmed the audiences with Training Day and End of Watch and offended nearly every movie fan with his take on Suicide Squad is back in familiar territory despite the fantastical elements. Ayer is far more comfortable entertaining his audiences with non-stop exhilarating action sequences that half of the duration is spent on Ward and Jakoby trying to lose their trigger-happy assailants from a nightclub to the main highlight sequence, which took place at a petrol kiosk and a convience store.
The plotting when it is not busy conjuring narrative about the resurrection of a mysterious Dark Lord contains references to social status and racism. The orcs apparently is a reflection of the African-American community who has suffered unjust treatment by the law enforcement while the elves are portrayed as upper class and super rich. The social messages are ambitious though the execution is pretty much forgettable.
Will Smith is always a welcome on the big screen although it’s hard to distinguish between Daryl Ward and Mike Lowery here. His rapport with Joel Edgerton is respectable but Edgerton no doubt puts in more effort with all that heavy makeup from effects gurus Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis. Noomi Rapace is thoroughly wasted in the role of Leillah and so is Edgar Ramirez in the role of a FBI investigator from the wizard task force.
Certainly, there’s much to like if you love a buddy cop actioner with a touch of fantasy and Landis’ script while has it’s fair share of flaws is commendable. Production values on the other hand are questionable. The visual effects, which don’t constitute much of the movie, are very much well done and that’s because Ayer prefers to do lots of physical effects and on location shoot. However to be fair, Bright doesn’t really look like a product with a $90 million price tag.
Not tailored for the critics, it’s mostly a modern day fantasy, entertaining nonsensical flick for the masses. Bright is nothing more than a summer, popcorn blockbuster released in late December on Netflix.
Review by Linus Tee