Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Bright (2017)

People have been rushing to call Bright one of the worst films of 2017. It's not. It's not even the worst thing that Netflix have done. Not by a long shot. It's not even the worst thing that director David Ayer has done. People have also been rushing to call this out as a reworking of Alien Nation. Okay, that's a bit harder to deny. Essentially a blend of Alien Nation, Training Day, and World Of Warcraft, this is a messy, fun film. It gets a number of things wrong, but also gets quite a bit right.

Will Smith plays a cop named Daryl Ward, unhappy because he's been paired up with an orc (Jakoby, played by Joel Edgerton). He's also unhappy because he's about to go back into service after recovering from a gunshot wound, a wound perpetrated by a criminal that he believes his unwanted partner let go free. That has to be pushed to the bottom of his list of priorities, however, when the pair find themselves getting their hands on a magical artefact that lots of people are willing to kill for.

What works well here? Well, if you buy into the main conceit (life going on as usual in a world that happens to also have elves, orcs, fairies, etc living alongside humans), most of it. I am pleased to see that, with this and Suicide Squad, Ayer has convinced Smith to once again spend some time in roles that work well with his charisma and cockiness. He isn't stretching himself here but he's suited to the role. Edgerton is even better, despite working through a load of make up that makes him unrecognisable. The world that the two inhabit is nicely realised, with a lot of minor details and casual snippets of dialogue helping to flesh things out. There are also some really good action beats. Perhaps not as many as it needs, but the set-pieces are very well done.

What doesn't work? Well, the script by Max Landis seems eager to throw as much into the pot as possible, which is especially obvious in a few opening scenes that overstay their welcome before the film starts to find its feet. There's also one major moment that is lifted almost completely from Training Day. It felt like a bit of a push then, it feels even more implausible here.

And you also have a supporting cast that feels largely wasted. Noomi Rapace has a good presence, she's the main villain of the piece, but it would have been nice to see her pop up for more than just a few scenes in the second half of the film. As for the other police officers we see here and there, none of them make an impression, even when involved in some pretty major scenes.

If you like Ayer movies then you should like this. Despite the characters and plot incorporating a number of fantastical elements, this is typical of his kind of stuff. Of course, some people may not enjoy his sensibilities being mixed up with orcs and elves and the like. I found it worked surprisingly well. I am already looking forward to the sequel - Fantastic Beasts And How To F**k Them Up.


Bright is on Netflix. Other David Ayer movies are available here (UK) and here (USA)

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