Bright, a new major film produced by Netflix, has sparked a lot of controversy. On the one hand, critics are blasting it with fervent hatred, while on the other hand audiences generally give it a very warm rating. I myself found it to have many great ideas and parallels, and all the action anyone could want.
David Ayer creates an interesting story premise that encapsulates a modern society with a very real-world tone, engulfed in an alternative reality powdered with orcs, elves and fairies. While there is magic sprinkled in, it is not the overarching story. So. Before you sit down to watch this (if you haven’t already), it is important to understand this movie is not a sci-fi, fantasy film.
Everyone knows Ayer is known for his action thrillers like Training Day and The Fast and the Furious. He tends to be partial to cop or action stories, and this movie is no exception. If you like cop movies, or action movies you will no doubt enjoy this film. If you are expecting to see some amazing sci-fi, fantasy movie then you are going in to this movie with the wrong mindset, and you will most likely be disappointed. That is not what this movie is about.
Bright brings up many social parallels to our “real” world — from racism, to corruption of power, greed and ignorance; to the pillars of open mindedness, trust and respect. While the movie does a decent job touching on some of these social injustices, it sometimes plays upon cliches just a little too much.
The characters Ward (Will Smith) and Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) have a complicated relationship. It is the first human and Orc police team on the force. The movie opens with Ward blaming Jakoby for getting shot, and there is clearly some serious distrust between the two of them. Luckily, over time these two start to warm up to each other, and begin to act like proper police partners. This is a huge piece of the story.
Enter Tikka and the magic wand. Ward and Jakoby answer a random call and find themselves in the middle of a magic wand war. In a regular cop film it would be similar to being in the middle of some sort of drug operation. This magic wand is wanted by everyone – elves, cops, orcs, gangsters – you name it, they want it. The rogue elf Leilah (Noomi Rapace) is the rightful owner of this wand, so naturally she and her band of rogue elf militants are tracking Ward, Jakoby and Tikka to get it back so they can raise the Dark Lord.
From here the three characters go on a journey of cat and mouse to protect Tikka and the wand from all those who would use the wand for selfish or evil reasons. The journey itself is bloody, action-packed and well done. Smith and Edgerton do a good job breathing life into their characters. Lucy Fry also gave a good performance as the timid, scared traitor elf to the “evil” rogue elftress Leilah. My only quibble with the dialogue in Bright is all the unnecessary cursing all the f*cking time. That was a little too over the top for my taste. But that is a small annoyance. One other kinda cheesy part was the whole “bro love” moment in the bathroom between Ward and Jakoby. The dialogue was a little forced and awkward.
The action and fight sequences in Bright were well done. The effects and lighting created a great mood for the film overall. The acting was well done by all actors. The story’s premise was a new, unique spin on an old, over-used cop-action theatrical formula. The one let down at the end, when all was said and done, is this mysterious “dark lord” that never surfaced – not even close to an appearance. Which, on the one hand is great. It means the characters did their job. On the other hand however, there was no real “big bad”. While Leilah and her goons were certainly worthy of being a dark lord’s minions … they just don’t give the film that je ne sais pas. I wanted more after it ended.
For me, Bright plays out like it’s the beginning of a more comprehensive story-line that will continue on with new “episodes” in a series that will expand its universe, explore the coming of the dark lord, and develop more of the untapped potential of both Ward and Jakoby. Bright is a great production from Netflix. One that hopefully continues on with future releases to give us that “more” we all are looking for.