Great concept, sub-par execution lead to an overall disappointing experience. This is a movie combining gritty cop drama with the fantastical realm of fantasy complete with fairies, elves, and orcs. You know a perfect way to fuck this obviously superb concept up? Make the movie one huge racial metaphor that plays off of already terrible stereotypes that people hold in their head and basically make it exactly like the world is today. What ever happened to a little escapism fantasy? If I wanted to see people treat each other terribly because of traits completely out of their control, I would just turn on the news, or go to my local super market. What “Bright” does is to just add some more races of people with overtly obvious differences into the mix and recreate the world as we know it. An example, we get a passing mention of NFL teams only using Orcs on their dline. Everybody in the room accepts this because it is part of the world of “Bright” which is great. But. Oh my god is that something I would have loved to see. An Orc d-line? Is it just an absolute bloodbath? How many people die every year? Do Orcs get concussions? How do Orc vs. human collisions even work? So may questions, no answers. So many great avenues to be explored and instead we get a pretty straight forward cop drama with the plot driver of a magic wand. The wand is inconsequential,just like the elves, and just like every element of fantasy in the movie. Replace the wand with money or really anything , replace orcs with just regular gangsters, replace elves with regular rich people, and the movie does not change. You don’t magically become a well crafted movie by hamfistedly shoving in racial relations metaphors that even the dullest of viewers can correlate to the real world. In today’s climate it is easy to try and stir up press and controversy with race, “Bright” chose the lowest common denominator and made it the baseline of its plot. Its cheap and its an attempt to generate critical acclaim for a sub par movie off of pure controversy. This movie could have been fun, instead it takes itself and its in your face racial hierarchy too seriously. The people in Bright’s world have not stop hating based on characteristics, they simply shifted to a different demographic which caused racial harmony.
No need to discuss plot. It has several moments where you will try to figure out if somebody recorded half of “Training Day” and half of “End of Watch” and then you’ll just realize it blatantly stole scene concepts from them. Specifically a scene about performing good deeds earlier in them movie for no other reason than being a good person and having that good deed effect events later in an unforeseen way ( Again, this would be unforeseen if you had never seen Training Day). Wand is the driving factor, some people can hold it, some can’t, Will Smith and Joel Edgerton are reluctant partners. Boom plot summarized.
Will Smith, seriously, what the fuck. Will Smith used to be hilarious and great with delivery. I am talking Men in Black, Hancock, Hitch, I, Robot, Bad Boys, Independence Day, even Fresh Prince. Will Smith was great in all of these movies, some of which you may have noticed aren’t even generally considered to be good. Will Smith’s off the cuff jokes and tendency to pause to deliver a joke came off as genuine and were hilarious. He drags the table over (accompanied by a massive screech) in Men in Black and then genuinely asks one of the military types in the room if he “wants to get in on this. ” It is hilarious and it seems like genuinely something Will Smith would do. There is one shared characteristic of all of these movies, they are before “Pursuit of Happyness” was released(Cept’ Hancock). After this highly over rated, but genuinely good tear jerker, we just had to convince Will Smith he was a good actor. I am guilty of it to, I genuinely have moments where I remember him as being good. Than I realize, it is just like thinking Keanu Reeves is a good actor. Been in great movies, but he does one thing well. Action. Will Smith used to do one thing well, Will Smith characters that were so self-assured of their badassery that they could make hilarious quips that inopportune times. So now we have convinced Will Smith he is good at acting so we get bullshit like Seven Pounds, After Earth, Focus, Concussion. Suicide Squad, Collateral beauty, the list goes on. Will Smith reprises his role of badass, but nice guy cop in “Bright”, but nothing about it seems genuine. Will Smith delivered some of his lines in the car to his Orc partner, Joel Edgerton, and instantly my brain thought, ” That line would have been funny if Will Smith had delivered it” and in the next second I realized it was actually Will Smith saying it and a tear rolled down my cheek remembering what he once was. It’s as if old Agent Jay Will Smith explained to new “good” actor Will Smith what sarcastic and funny was and now new crappy Will Smith is trying to act like old Will Smith. Enough on Will Smith, Joel Edgerton did okay, but it is hard to do much when they make your character the town dumbass. The best performance is from Ike Barinholtz as the sleazy police man, mostly because in a movie of shit I’ve seen before, he played a role I would not picture him in.
For all the shit I have talked, I think “Bright” would enter into the category of watching on a slow movie night where you can’t find anything else. It is mildly entertaining in that predictable, blockbustery, cool-concept-coulda-done-a lot- more-with way (which I guess is what Netflix was targeting with the massive budget and sequel re-up), but don’t go out of your way to see it.