Words by Nick Slay
We’ve all been there before. The movie night routine. Make it to the theatre on time, hopefully it’s a nice one that allows you to pick your seat (hopefully that didn’t just get a bed bug report on yelp). Next over pay for salty popcorn or other comfort snacks, pay premium so it’s either in 3D or IMAX or Sony 4K. You’ve got your date on one hand and your extra diabetes-sized Coke in the other. You lean back in your fancy reclining faux leather cinema seat. The previews blow you away, the credits roll, and your proceed to waste the next 2 hours of your life. As you sit through this movie from hell, you think of all the fades RottenTomatoes.com is going to catch for not warning you about this Michael Bay shaky camera-style thriller that your 4th grade brother could have written a better plot for. Then someone tells you Will Smith has a new big budget action movie that is going to make up for it, but it’s not in theaters, it’s on Netflix?
Now if you’re concerned, we understand. Once upon a time Will and Colin Farrell, had a weird fairytale love drama where Smith played the devil. Critics and fans hated it. And if you’ve ever sat through Zombeavers, unless you enjoy cheesy B movies, you wonder who was asleep at the wheel when that movie made the scheduling list. Then someone tells you about BRIGHT. Brought to you by the director of Suicide Squad, this movie was clearly made for theaters. From the budget and special effects, from all the money Netflix spends pushing Dolby and Hi-Tech color coding to directors to make this feel like a rich cinema experience. This pushes the envelope of the buddy cop genre into something surprisingly good.
Without giving away too much of the plot, it’s as if Training Day took place in southern Los Angeles in a modern day world 2000 years after The Lord of the Rings takes place. It sounds like an unlikely mash up, yet it works on so many levels. This modern day powder keg reflects the slums of L.A. Black and Hispanics still face the real world struggles being minorities in major cities, except Elves are the new Daddy Warbucks at the top of the food chain, and Orcs suffer the shame and xenophobia plagued by those who are at the bottom. Eternally punished for serving the big bad who tried to use magic to take over the world, they are stuck in a caste system where they are harassed by cops, blamed for all crime and terrorism (sounds familiar?), and their gangs aka clans are fighting for turf in the hood. Will is the titular Joe Everyman, the quippy Second Lieutenant that gets stuck with the first Orc cop.
What’s not to like? There’s action, shoot outs, high speed chases, and stuff getting blown up by magic. It low key forces us to take a good look at ourselves in how we deal with race and stereotypes, as well as the very plausible reality for minorities, that all cops aren’t the good guy. It reinforces the idea to make up your own mind and that all lower class minorities aren’t as bad as Fox News makes them out to be. In a world where people own quality sound systems and visually stunning flat screen TVs, staying home may finally be the better option with this $90 million action flick leading the way. The best part is you don’t get the judgemental stares for sneaking in your favorite fast food or asking questions during the movie.
BRIGHT will be available on Netflix this Friday, December 22nd.