Directed by David Ayer.
Starring Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Lucy Fry, Noomi Rapace, Jay Hernandez, Veronica Ngo, Edgar Ramirez, Happy Anderson, and Ike Barinholtz.
In a world where mystical creatures live side by side with humans, a human cop is forced to work with an Orc to find a weapon everyone is prepared to kill for.
Bright, by all accounts, should have been a lot better than this over-stuffed buddy cop/fantasy hybrid that will leave viewers with whiplash worse than the numerous traffic collisions that this Netflix flick boasts. Luke-warm off the back of the critically panned Suicide Squad, Ayer takes the elements that were fantastic about that film, including the soundtrack, costume design, cinematography and of course visual effects and decides to ramp up the flaws even further! A distinct lack of plot, underdeveloped characters (outside of our main duo) and a villain that we know less about having finished the journey than when we started, and all in all Bright makes Suicide Squad seem like Shakespeare.
Smith and Edgerton, as the two leads, developed chemistry that belonged in an altogether better movie. Smith’s Daryl Ward, who returns to work after a near death experience on his Orc partner’s watch, adds a level of charisma that is much-needed in this fast paced affair, whilst also providing a touch of distrust between these unlikely partners. Sometimes coming off as unlikable, but never straying too far from heroic, Smith’s performance is certainly one of the highlights; of course not to be outdone by the similarly talented Joel Edgerton, whose character Jakoby, finds himself conflicted as he stands as the singular Orcish member of the LAPD.
Never breaking any new ground in terms of existing buddy-cop films, Bright offers the usual dynamic that one would expect, Edgerton somewhat playing as comic relief to Smiths oftentimes quippy, but straight-faced police officer, who just needs to make it 5 more years until retirement. They are joined by the Elf Tikka, who continues to run from the darkness of her past; although actress Lucy Fry never had a whole lot to work with, Tikka becoming developed in perhaps the last half hour of the piece.
The villains of Bright never even receive a vague motivation beyond searching for their lost wand. Indeed, the numerous mentions of the Dark Lord must be there to service a sequel, as the development within the original was weak at best. Whilst the action involving these three sinister individuals will leave viewers at the very least entertained, they’re characterisation is merely that they are cool looking and can do a lot of unnecessary flips. One gang that the trio face off with, led by Enrique Murciano’s Poison, could have been entirely written out serving no purpose to the grander, meandering plot. Shaving off some screen time here to better serve perhaps some more intriguing characters would have been a gift for the magic wand to give. The Fogteeth Orcs gang by comparison served a greater role, if not a little rushed and limited, considering the gravity of their actions at the end.
The plot left even more to be desired, with the LAPD officers and their Elf companion seemingly muddling through each situation without any coherent plan. Without the many other roles intertwining with their narrative, there would be no rhyme or reason to their actions, instead becoming a ‘and then this happens,’ scenario, where we are lurched forward at breakneck speed through exposition and characters that try to broaden the world but instead leave viewers scratching their heads as to why they are not watching a film about those stories instead. The concept of a previous great war is intriguing and the corrupt Elvish hierarchy that falls over the city could be further explored. Not to mention, the fight between the Illuminate and Inferi that is briefly mentioned. At some point we are even given a version of events where the Orcs lay on peaceful parties until the LAPD ruin them, suggesting that they are the true villains for bringing guns into the equation.
The larger themes that Ayer tries to reach are clear therefore. Trying to balance the current police brutality arguments that plague America currently and the increased conversation surrounding race, Ayer believes that putting a world together of Orcs and Elves and Humans will allow him to share his political views and provide a commentary on the modern, real world. Although, advocating that Fairy lives don’t matter only adds to the confusion as to what should be accepted as racism. In reality, these messages become muddled by the notion that a plot may be needed for this vague series of concepts and that sticking a nuclear, McGuffin magic wand, may be the answer to how to tell this story. Except, the magic wand can’t even save this from becoming pointless when you realise they could have just called the feds in the first place.
The only idea that wasn’t under baked was the journey of Jakoby from hated to respected amongst all races. But when you realise how broad an idea that really is, you get an inkling as to how many ideas were thrown into this fantasy world which may have shone too bright and burned out too quickly. Here’s hoping the sequel might just answer some of the hundreds of questions this political piece threw up! But for now, it seems Netflix has a dud on its hands and I doubt Bright will be illuminating screens for very long.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★