Writing Movie “WRONGS”
By Jim West
Directed by David Ayer
Written by Max Landis
This is an odd review as this is my first of a film that is on Netflix. Netflix has taken a big step with making this film and getting an A-lister Will Smith to star is a considerable feat. Yet the one issue that is not uncommon with film is poor story and plot. Strong and full of potential premise gives way to poor writing. Therefore this film fits the bill perfectly for what this site and its’ reviews strive to do.
Will Smith and Joel Edgerton star as cops who are partnered with each other in a world where Orcs, Elves, and Humans exist in modern day. Elves are displayed as the rich and powerful, and Orcs are clearly shown to be the hated race. I found the undertones of race and racism pretty neat as the film opens, but the message gets muddled as the film progresses. Daryl Ward is played by Will Smith and he is a veteran cop that is nearing retirement and is forced by the department to partner up with the world’s first Orc cop. Joel Edgerton plays Nick Jakoby the Orc cop hated by all races and even cops are out to take him out. Nick’s background is slowly revealed through the course of the film and you see why he is very different than the Orcs displayed in the film. He is timid, soft spoken, and seems to be trying very hard to connect with Daryl his partner. The central plot of the story is a wand is discovered that can grant wishes, but only a ‘Bright’ can hold it. A ‘Bright’ is a being that is special as anyone who is not a Bright would be disintegrated upon touching it. So it can grant wishes but we really don’t get to see it do the very thing every character in the film says it can do. Bit of a bummer there if you ask me. Daryl and Nick relaxes what the wand in the wrong hands would mean for the world and they spend the rest of the film trying to protect it and the elf who stole it from danger.
Here comes the spoilers.
Nick towards the halfway point of the film reveals he understands the role he has in the greater good of showing Orcs they can be better than their stereotypes. This message is not played to very well at all in this film. The clichéd ‘prophecy’ trope gets called upon instead by the writer here and it fails miserably. I think sticking to the racism issues and showing Nick’s character display more complexity would be the very thing this film so badly needed. We see him overhear the other cops in the locker room talk about him. He gets cursed ad spit upon by his own race. Human cops are plotting to get rid of him one way or another. Yet we still see him trying to crack jokes with his partner and prove himself worthy as a police officer. What I would do in this case is slowly reveal that Nick is strong and aggressive, but is holding back for fear of losing trust with his human co-workers and partner. Let him break out of the act during a tense action sequence such as the gas station where he can then display his strength and perhaps strike a degree of fear from Will Smith in his capabilities that previously were hidden by his tepidness. That would create a character who possesses a degree of complexity that this film needed badly. Let him show the audience the first half of the film was an ‘act’. Then he embraces his strengths and using them to help save the world. Then Daryl would help cover up the truth of how things happened to protect his partner and maintain the perception of Nick to everyone as being timid still. That would unite them and make them better partners as they would have each other’s backs.
The backdrop of the magical and elves, orcs, and even a mention of Dwarves in Miami would seem to be a setup for a trilogy of sorts, but given the mishandling of the first film’s story that may not ever see the light of day. That is sad as this film had all the components of a great film. A sequel could easily be setup as there are more wands in the world, and introduction of character complexity would heighten the films themes of race, racism, and stereotypes and switch at times sending these up and serving right into them. That would be a film not only full of action, but poignant with a powerful message for viewers delivered by simple character complexity.
Thanks for reading Writing Movie ‘WRONGS’.