Worst Film Of The Year? Not By A Long Shot.
Netflix’s most ambitious and expensive film project Bright is likely to divide opinion between critics and the general public. This is the sort of action-focused film light on characterisation and a deep storyline that critics hate. Behind the facade of profanities and toilet humour overpowering the first act of the film is an entertaining, genre-bender that manages to successfully merge fantasy and buddy-cop drama together, even if the execution is a little shaky at times. Bright is loud, chaotic and riddled with flaws but its also charming and a lot of fun.
Taking place in an alternate, modern-day America where humans, orcs and other magical creatures live together, Bright’s world is full of intrigue and promise from the off. Racial tensions between orcs and humans cause an air of uneasy tension to stifle any progress between the factions and during the disappointingly brief moments we spend exploring the world, this is shown to devastating affect. At the heart of this chaos is Daryl Ward (Will Smith), a no nonsense cop who’s displeasure at being teamed up with fellow Orcish police officer Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) is exacerbated when he believes Jakoby allowed an Orc to shoot him and escape. This plot line drives the first act of the story before changing to a more familiar narrative revolving around several different races trying to gain control of an ancient artefact. There’s certainly little in the way of innovation within the storyline here but despite the formulaic by-the-numbers narrative, Bright sprinkles in humour and breathtaking action to disguise the plot frailties and it’s surprisingly effective.
Bright certainly isn’t without its problems; a contrived commentary about racial tensions is clumsily managed and the film’s blistering pace never allows you to become accustomed and live in the world it portrays. There’s little in the way of characterisation for anyone other that Jakoby and Ward either and Will Smith’s one-liners do feel ham-fisted and out of place at times. Its ultimately these two cops that manage to drive the narrative forward though and the progression of their fractured relationship is actually well written and believable. There’s enough tension to keep the stakes high and a more controlled, reserved use of humour outside the first half hour helps Bright settle into a consistent rhythm. There’s echoes of films like Rush Hour and Bad Boys here and whilst Bright never reaches those lofty heights, the humour is on point for most of the run time and gives Bright a playful feel, emphasising it this isn’t to be taken too seriously.
For all the buzz about Bright being the most expensive Netflix project, there really isn’t anything particularly special here that hasn’t been done better elsewhere. The acting is average, the plot line is as formulaic as they come and the action, whilst adrenaline fuelled and impressive, isn’t anything particularly awe-inspiring. Yet despite this, Bright has a certain charm to it and its genre-bending premise actually works quite well. The film is full of fun moments and the chaotic, loud action becomes the focal point of the film. If you go into this expecting an Oscar worthy, incredibly deep experience you’re likely to be left disappointed. If, however, you go into this one expecting a loud, fun action title that doesn’t take itself too seriously, you’re likely to find that here.