Bright has a multitude of great ideas, interesting mythology, and stunning visuals, and while it never really works, it’s a kind of beautiful disaster that’s almost worth watching. There’s nothing worse than a film made by committee lacking in personality, and while Bright has a lot of problems, originality is not one of them. While Bright doesn’t really work, it feels like the vision of a singular filmmaker in David Ayer, and after Ayer’s Suicide Squad was clearly tampered with by a studio, it’s refreshing to see Ayer let loose to make something crazy and unique. In short, where Suicide Squad was a complete disaster, Bright is at least a watchable one.
In modern day Los Angeles, fantasy elements have been long incorporated within society, with humans, elves, and orcs coexisting, albeit with historical tensions. Veteran L.A.P.D. officer Daryl Ward (Will Smith) is set to work alongside Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgeton), the force’s first orc police officer, but the two are caught in over their head when a mythical magical being threatens the city. The film’s best element is undoubtably Edgerton’s performance; Edgeton captures a surprising sensitivity and humor in the character, and a lot of the script’s clunkiest elements are improved by his performance.
There’s a neat mythology behind Bright, full of interesting backstories and histories of the world, but unfortunately a lot of the dialogue is particularly weak, with a lot of on the nose exposition and cringe inducing one liners. Smith can save some of the dialogue because of his charisma as an actor, but the film’s attempts to cover more complex racial issues with blatant metaphors come off as incredibly elementary. The plot also comes to a lot of standstills, where the film isn’t exactly sure how to transition between set pieces.
Bright isn’t good, but it’s an interesting watch, mostly because it doesn’t shy away from the weirder elements of its story. Thus, reviewing a film like Bright is a challenge, as it’s hard to recommend it in good consciousness, even if I kind of liked it, warts and all. It’s not completely competent, yet there were films this year such as Okja and Downsizing that are technically competent, and I did review positively, even if I personally didn’t really like them. It’s a hard line to walk when discussing a film like this, but even if it’s not particularly good, it’s bound to warrant more discussion than a lot of “good” movies this year. Grade: C+