“You’re fearless. You always know what to do. What you did tonight, that’s what it takes for an Orc to get blooded. An act of great bravery. To me, you’re like a blooded human.” – Nick Jakoby, Bright (2017).
So, this is apparently some horrendous shite film that everyone is in unanimous agreement on. Sure, it was evidently terrible and it may have been worse than my previous review of Girlfriend’s Day (2017). Even though it’s quite terrible, it needs to be looked into and critiqued. It may be bad, but it’s important to learn why exactly it is so bad. No, it’s not just because of the evidently dreadful direction of David Ayer. This does also mark another landmark in my continuous and failing mission to find a Netflix film that is better than “pretty good”. So far, there have been no successful results.
David Ayer is not a good director. That is what I have noticed these past few reviews. To be fair the only other film of his I have seen is Suicide Squad (2016) and that is genuinely terrible. Still, I suppose there’s only so much you can say about David Ayer’s work. My problems with Ayer’s direction go beyond that of his films being poor. He never has anything interesting to show through his cinematography and in turn that creates very boring viewing. Hell, Suicide Squad highlighted the problems with his direction. An overreliance on special effects and a total lack of focus on the story. Unsurprisingly, Bright suffers from the exact same problems.
The plot is something of a social commentary on the treatment of minorities in the United States. If you don’t get that impression then you haven’t watched the film because that message is so ham fisted you’d be ignorant to miss it. Bright does not tackle this underlying tone well at all. By making it the focus of the film, you really do expect more of an impactful message. This impact may very well be camouflaged in what can only be described as some of the worst writing ever put to paper. See the above quotation as one of the many examples of terrible dialogue throughout this film. It’s one of those films where it has to be seen to be truly believed.
If it means Will Smith is still getting work then I suppose that’s alright then isn’t it? I suppose it is nice that Smith is getting work, but the work he gives in this film is quite awful to say the least. He delivers his dialogue with the same enthusiasm of a McDonald’s employee. Begrudgingly, without a hint of charisma and a hint of judgement in his voice, maybe judgement of you choosing to watch such an awful film. Joel Edgerton does no better as the racially subverted Nick Jakoby, serving as a walking and talking race discrimination character, and nothing more. The chemistry and development of the two officers relationship is poor and nothing more. It takes a lot to make sure two characters don’t develop over two hours, but Ayer’s direction and Edgerton and Smith’s performances manage this.
Speaking of chemistry, pretty much nobody does a half decent job in this film. There’s a certain lack of emotion in everyone’s performances, they look as if they’ve got other places to be. Even the normally brilliant Noomi Rapace (Prometheus, 2011) as the villainous Leilah is fairly run of the mill. Films like Bright are few and far between, but what tends to happen is that anyone involved in the filming of such a project simply loses any ounce of talent they once held. Luckily, Smith, Edgerton and Rapace are the only three big names Netflix could drag into this project, and everyone else within this film is pretty much unheard of. Let’s hope it stays that way.
I implore anyone that has seen this film to tell me one memorable scene. The only bits I remember are Jakoby being killed off and then brought back to life literally two minutes later and that crazy guy with the sword. Those are the only bits of this film that I honestly remember. Tell me something. What are these characters meant to be doing? I honestly cannot answer that. What is the actual plot of this film? What was the goal or the overall message? Because as far as I’m concerned, there simply isn’t an answer to any of those questions. I truly do not know how to answer any of those questions. Not being able to come up with words to describe something isn’t normally an issue I have, yet here we are.
Laughable is never a word you should use to describe a film like Bright, but one look at the CGI and you’ll see why. Those elves really do look terrible don’t they? Ayer relies far too much on flashy effects and fast cut camera effects that make the choreography and action almost too confusing to follow. When there isn’t an explosion or a camera cut, the film is very boring. Boring or hard to follow, there is literally no inbetween for Bright, with the film darting between those two settings frequently. It’s just so generic and it annoys me far more than it should. I went ahead and did the washing up halfway through watching this film, and let me tell you, that was a hell of a lot more fun.
Ayer, it seems, has lost his edge. Not that he had an edge to begin with. Intending to make a provocative film about that of race discrimination and presumably the failures of capitalism, it simply doesn’t work. He manages to dilute his message so quickly and this is predominantly because of his poor dialogue and even poorer direction. I can imagine that, with a different director at the helm, this would have been an at least serviceable and mediocre Netflix special. It’s not that the wrong choices were made. It’s not that this was a development hell. Quite simply it was because Ayer is incompetent behind the camera.
I feel I’m giving Ayer too much credit in suggesting his message has been subverted by the boundaries of film. You can do almost infinite things with film. It’s just a shame that money is put towards shit like this. There’s something so alienating about Bright and I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly it is. Maybe it’s the lack of chemistry between its leads, or the direction being as boring as a sober party. Still, Ayer needs to be commended. Somehow he’s managed to convince Netflix to give him the means of making a sequel. We can only hope for some form of improvement, but don’t hold out for it. Take my word for it, Bright is shite.