I came into David Ayers Bright with high hopes. I really wanted this to be good but by the first act I was certain that ‘okay’ was all we were going to muster out.

Writer Max Landis presents interesting concepts but he seems to have problems letting a joke fade gracefully. There were several moments where I found myself urging the characters to move forward past a particular bit that was well and fully dead. There were also several good lines that were delivered in odd places, almost as if he really didn’t have anywhere to put them narrative-wise but was determined not to leave them out. I thought they could have expanded on why the Orcs seemed to have gravitated towards hip-hop culture and what…exactly made the Elves “better” than everyone else. Though perhaps that aspect was determined simply by their physical prowess? Seems unlikely, perhaps ‘Bright’ is a metaphorical substitute for high IQ. Elves have more Brights…thus Elves are better, seems simplistic. At any rate, diving into this a bit more would have made it seem less of a gimmicky social commentary and actually have logistical narrative reasoning.

David Ayers direction remains a thing of curious inspection. I thought the mystical elements were handled quite well, in fact, the action sequences with the “Evil Elves” was probably the best I’ve seen from him. However, contrast this with several scenes where gang leaders engage in spectacularly horrendous monologues (Sorry Max) and the film comes screaching to a halt. Perhaps it’s unfair to lay these duds at the feet of Ayer but the direction does very little to keep the eye entertained as these inviduals ramble on and on.  Given this evidence…with a good script, I think Ayers could probably do well with a Sword and Sorcery Movie. Food for thought.

Will Smith was more or less Will Smith, but that’s okay. He had several good one liners and made good use of them.  There’s a hospital scene near the end that works very well in large part because of Will’s mannerisms. I think that Joel Edgerton, who played Jakoby, did the best he could with what he was given…but he was given a slew of bad lines. The majority of the comedy that was laid at his feet was horrible. Things worked much better for him during the action scenes and when he was tasked with being serious.  Virtually every scene with Noomi Rapace is electrifying. Her emotional intensity and physicality is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s always a pleasure to watch someone like that throw themselves into their work. Lucy Fry who played Tikka seemed to be channeling Milla Jovovich’s character from the Fifth Element…essentially a fish out of water. What I don’t understand is why. All the other Elves seemed to be more than comfortable with their surroundings. Did she spend her life locked up in a disappointments room? This was never made clear for me. But for what it’s worth she did a fine job playing bewildered and scared.

Overall the film is hampered by poor dialogue and missed opportunities. It has a few ‘Bright’ moments but they are not enough to pull it from being another buddy cop film laced with a bit too ‘on-the-nose’ social commentary.  These elements act as a heavy anchor weighing the film down and preventing it from ever achieving anything close to greatness.

3 out of 5 stars

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