Bright is Netflix’s newest blockbuster written by Max Landis and directed by David Ayer (End of Watch, Suicide Squad). Taking place in a modern fantasy world the film is a combination of End of Watch and Lord of the Rings and not in a good way.
In an alternate version of Earth, there are Orcs, Fairies, Elves and other mythical creatures. Officer Daryl Ward (Will Smith) is a veteran police officer nearing his retirement but because of a Diversity Act, he is unwillingly paired with a new rookie cop – Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) who is an Orc. In this world Orcs and humans have not gotten along for nearly 2,000 years. Just wanting to get to his retirement as quickly as possible Ward puts up with Jakoby but the other officers clearly do not like him for being an Orc.
On what seems to be a regular night patrolling the Los Angeles streets the two find themselves in a shootout that turns for the worst. After the gruesome gunfight, the pair come across a magic wand – a powerful artifact that can only be wielded by individuals known as Brights. Along with finding the wand they also find an elf named Tikka (Lucy Fry). Tikka is protecting the wand from another elf – Leilah (Noomi Rapace) who wants to use the wand to summon a dark force that has been gone for 2,000 years. After finding the wand and Tikka – Officer Ward and Jakoby find themselves battling dangerous gangsters and trying to survive the night.
Having an odd plot to begin with – Bright is a terrible attempt at creating a modern fantasy. With a story that doesn’t really take time to explain anything about this version of Earth, it is hard to fully immerse yourself in this world. Orcs and humans have been at odds with each other for nearly 2,000 years and although it is one of the main issues in the film, it is never explained what went wrong between the two races.
We see the film attempt at tackling the issues of police brutality and racism, which is clearly a reflection on many things going on in the country right now. Unfortunately this is not shown well in the film with many of the scenes just showing police abusing Orcs most of the time when this issue is brought on screen. Had Ayer taken time to develop these issues it could have reflected better on the story itself.
As for the characters of officer Ward and Jakoby – they are the typical cop duo with Ward being the wise-cracking cop and Jakoby essentially being his sidekick. Other than that their characters are never truly fleshed out. Even with Jakoby’s character arc it never truly feels earned nor did I care or understand exactly what was going on. To make matters even worse for this film, the nearly speechless supporting characters of Tikka and Leilah were dreadful to watch on screen. With such uninteresting and underdeveloped characters, there is nothing to care about. Had the film been more focused on the details of the story as opposed to the film’s aesthetics, things could have turned out differently.
Is Bright the worst film of the year that many critics are tagging it as? No. Although the film does not have many redeeming qualities other than Will Smith. I mean c’mon who doesn’t like Smith as an actor? Other than that Bright is a forgettable film. A failed attempt at modern fantasy – Netflix’s first blockbuster has not been the great success in the eyes of many. Already confirmed for a sequel it seems that Netflix could care less about creating a quality film and if the company wants to be considered a top dog in the film industry it better tighten up in quality to compete with major blockbusters.
Final Grade: D+