Yes, Bright, the widely-panned Netflix buddy cop feature where Will Smith plays an LAPD veteran who teams up with an Orc in a world where Tolkien-esque fantasy creatures roam the mean streets of LA, is awkward and has inspired much cringing and snark.
* Even if Bright didn’t shine for you, these sci-fi action films might
* From classics to some of the best recent near-future films
* Some inspired by Philip K. Dick stories, some by Marvel Comics
It has its bright spots though: Smith’s performance somehow outshines the rest of the movie, in a way that probably only Will Smith could ever pull off. Still, if seeing or streaming this mess has left you wanting more, here are five sci-fi action films to brighten your outlook on the silver screen. And don’t worry: while we may have to wait a few years for the Bright sequel, you can watch these movies right now.
The 2017 sequel got rave reviews, but the original Blade Runner, based on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, is a shining gem of a dystopian nightmare movie. Like Bright, it features cops in LA, shoot-outs and science fiction elements. This is, thankfully, where the similarities end. The film that laid the foundations of a whole generation’s “grim and gritty future” aesthetic, the OG Blade Runner is a must-see.
End of Watch is one of the best cop drama films of the last decade. Michael Peña and Jake Gyllenhaal star as LAPD officers stepping into the deep end of a far-reaching narco-cartel conspiracy. With a tightly plotted screenplay from the writer of Training Day, End of Watch is violent without ever being senseless, and its tropes of inexperienced lawmen learning how high the corruption goes recalls great film noir.
Spielberg’s classic, Minority Report, also loosely based on a Philip K. Dick story, is one of those films that enters the lexicon as a shorthand for a general anxiety. The film’s high-contrast visuals and effects are still cool fifteen years later, and its themes are, if anything, even more disturbingly relevant.
The most recent installment in the Kingsman series has Colin Firth and Taron Edgerton reprising their roles as super-secret spies in the Kingsman organization. This action comedy may have garnered mixed reviews on both sides of the Atlantic, but unlike some recent sci-fi action features, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Oh, and Elton John is in it, so there’s that.
2017’s Logan is widely regarded as one of the most heartfelt and moving of all the superhero movies. In it, Hugh Jackman plays an aged and humanized version of the X-Men’s Wolverine, caring for an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and a young mutant named Laura. Critics praised Logan for its reduced scale and strong characters, calling it a hero movie for our time. Its near-future setting is remarkably unspectacular, recognizable and bleak in familiar, realistic ways. As Jackman plays it, the Wolverine’s final form comes quite close to Jean Valjean from the 2013 Les Miserables. Here, as there, Jackman moves us with his portrayal of strength in the face of very long term suffering, showing us a figure bound to a surrogate family he vows to protect, and who is willing to invest everything in the hope of a new generation. The genius of the actor points out just how related the X-Men story is to Victor Hugo’s 19th-century novel. So, yeah, this X-Men franchise movie is basically Les Mis with claws, and that’s a great thing.