Nothing gets you out of blogging retirement quite like some good old fashion pop culture controversy and when Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra) is the writer and Suicide Squad’s David Ayer is back in the directing chair, you have to believe people will be as split as James McAvoy in the movie once. I for one don’t think this was even close to being the worst film of 2017 and the hyperbole of that statement across the internet needs squashed immediately. Now, is even a good movie? You’ll have to keep reading my review to find out, but I can also tell you this, it’s far more watchable than plenty of other films over the last few years, and it’s because of the potential of the world Landis and Ayer have built.
Bright brings the modern world crashing into the world of fantasy where orcs, fairies, wizards, and elves are our neighbors, coworkers, and even victims of police brutality. SAY WHAT? Oh yes. Landis tackles the ever so topical theme of police brutality, an unfortunate tradition in America, which pit Will Smith’s police officer Scott Ward against the corrupt world of LA alongside his orc partner Nick Jakoby (played excellently by Joel Edgerton) as they barely set aside their own differences for the greater good…but that’s where it loses me. On one hand, this is the making of an excellent fantasy-buddy-cop that can play with topical social themes, but fails to commit to explaining the mythologies of its world which creates drama that ultimately falls flat once it appears, but that’s where Ayer is so damn good at what he does, and that is create action scenes that make you lean in your chair.
Even though Suicide Squad was what it was, there’s no denying that the early action sequences were pretty impressive, and we see that in Ayer’s other films as well. It’s when Ayer has delved into his last two films outside of our human reality does he loose sight of the material he’s working with. Fantasy films are often rich with ideas and concepts that we want to explore because they are both familiar, but constantly shifting in their origins. Bright introduces something interesting, fantasy creatures and beings adapting to what we know as the modern world, but instead of diving into that portion of the story, we get another shoot-em-up film with Will Smith doing Will Smith things, one liners and all. I think Joel Edgerton’s Jakoby was the character that story should have focused on, but of course, Will Smith being who he is had to be the one we see the story unfold through.
For a film that tackles the ideas of police brutality, prejudice, and bigotry, we didn’t seem to get a lot of the character we should sympathize more with, but that’s exactly why a sequel makes sense. When the potential is there, you don’t just let it stay stagnant, you try to reveal it like a butterfly from a chrysalis and all that bio 101 bullshit. I really liked the type of adventure we went for a majority of the film, but the same issues I had with The Last Jedi are what I have here as with most films: lack of attention to the mythology or the world that’s been built for us. The way I see it, Landis and Ayer are two men who are really great at foreplay, but can’t seem to finish. That’s a problem most men have let’s face it, but the trick is to learn from those prior failings and make the time spent on a project worthwhile in the end or we won’t want to ever call you again.