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If you were to see the trailer of Will Smith’s latest action flick BRIGHT without having any context to go by, you would likely believe that the movie was an upcoming summer blockbuster. A high concept production that features Smith as a police officer in an alternate reality where humans, orcs, elves, and fairies co-exist together, it is the type of production that, in theory, should open in thousands of theaters across the country. The surprising thing about it, though, is that it is not a theatrical release. On December 22, 2017 BRIGHT was instantly accessible to millions of potential viewers when it debuted on Netflix. The continuously evolving entertainment platform had already achieved a high level of success with dramatic films (including this year’s multiple Academy Award nominated MUDBOUND) but this was their first legitimate attempt at a brainless blockbuster.

Smith plays Daryl Ward, a veteran officer who is only a couple of years away from retiring. He is recovering after being shot in the line of duty, and is less than ecstatic to get back to his job due to his partner’s inability to keep him safe. To make matters worse, his partner, Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) is an orc who is deplored by the entire department. The human officers think that orcs do not belong in uniform, and are all nothing more than deplorable criminals. By all accounts, it doesn’t seem as if Nick is a bad guy, but he certainly doesn’t seem to be a top-notch cop, either. The underling tension between Ward and Jakoby is the result of the shooting that injured Ward, and it seems unlikely that he will ever forgive his partner for what happened.   

BRIGHT goes in a number of different directions, but none of these are anywhere near as engaging as they should have been. With very little explanation offered in regards to the background of the universe we are seeing, it’s difficult to become immersed in the world. The cause of the interspecies strife is never established, and this resultsin an inability to discern exactly where the movie is going. As a result, the entire movie is a disjointed mess. The only thing that is for certain, is that the hatred surrounding the orcs is a thinly veiled parable on racism. While an admirable attempt, it comes across as a hollow attempt to bring a timely and sensitive issue to the forefront of a clumsy action film. 

One of the many problem facing director David Ayer’s film is the fact that it never establishes what it wants to be. Occasionally, a genre-bending production that defies convention can be an inspiring revelation, like last year’s BABY DRIVER. Other times, it can result in a befuddling mess. Unfortunately for viewers, BRIGHT fits into the latter category. Smith exudes his typical charm and charisma, and there are a few laughs to be found if you are patient enough to get to them. These moments, however, are hard to come by. As the film lumbers on, Ward and Jakoby find themselves at the heart of an interspecies battle that may very well determine the fate of the planet, and Smith does everything he can to save the sinking ship. With each disjointed sequence, however, it simply serves as a reminder of how great some of the A-lister’s previous endeavors have been. The plot never seems to be going anywhere, and, more often than not, it feels as if it is an aimless collection of half-developed ideas that were tossed together with no real endgame in sight. As a result, it erratically bounces from being a sci-fi adventure, to a buddy cop comedy, to a dirty cop drama, and then an action extravaganza. Sadly, none of these elements work particularly well, and renders Netflix’s first attempt at a blockbuster a lackluster failure.

Jennifer Nastasi Guzelak
I have been a personal trainer for over seventeen years and I absolutely love what I do. I honestly feel that I have one of the best jobs out there! The most rewarding part of my profession is helping one of my clients succeed at reaching their personal fitness goals. Making a difference in someone’s life makes it all worthwhile. I am currently certified by the National Sports Conditioning Association, Apex Fitness Group, and the International Sports Science Association.