A Netflix Original Film/Overbrook Entertainment/Trigger Warning Entertainment/Grand Electric
Directed by David Ayer
Produced by Eric Newman/David Ayer/Bryan Unkeless
Written by Max Landis
Music by David Sardy
Cinematography by Roman Vasyanov
Edited by Michael Tronick
David Ayer is the main reason why I said I’d give BRIGHT a viewing. The secondary reason is that since it’s on Netflix I didn’t have to burn up gas driving to a theater to see or even have to get dressed. That’s two big plusses right there. And I’ve enjoyed most of David Ayer’s movies in the past. Especially “Fury” “Sabotage” and yes, even “Suicide Squad.” The jury is still out on “End of Watch.” I’ll have to watch it again to make up my mind. But upon hearing the plot and backstory of BRIGHT it wasn’t a movie I was particularly anxious to see as Urban Fantasy is a genre for which I have zero interest. But as I said, David Ayer is a director I trust, I don’t have to leave the house and who doesn’t want to see Will Smith in an action movie?
BRIGHT is set on an alternate Earth where magic works and sometime in the distant past, Humans, Orcs and Elves engaged in wars lasting for generations. In the modern day, the three races live and work together. Elves are apparently the ruling class, the social and financial elite. Humans are more or less the middle class and Orcs are looked down on by both. They’re the downtrodden stand-ins for every minority that’s been abused and misused by this country. Yeah, the social commentary here can get a little ham-fisted at times but one thing I’m glad about is that there wasn’t a ton of infodumps with characters telling each other things they already know in order to inform us of what we need to know. The dialog and the visuals clue us into what we need to know about this world and how it got the way it is.
LAPD police officer Daryl Ward (Will Smith) is just a few years away from retirement. He doesn’t need hassles such as being shotgunned in the chest or being partnered with Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) the city’s first Orc police officer. Ward has serious doubts upon returning to work as he was shot by an Orc and he’s got suspicions that Jakoby, allowing racial ties to supersede his loyalties to his badge just may have let the shooter go. Jakoby has his own shit to deal with. He’s not accepted by the other police officers or his own people who consider him a traitor for having joined the police force.
These problems are quickly dwarfed by a really major one. While investigating a safehouse operated by The Shield of Light, a militant group trying to prevent the return of The Dark Lord, they find dead Elf bodies and a live Elf, Tikka (Lucy Fry). The Elves have all been killed in unnaturally hideous ways. Ward and Jakoby soon find out why. Tikka is in possession of a Magic Wand. It’s the magical equivalent of a thermonuclear weapon that can only be held and used by a Bright. Anybody else trying to use a Magic Wand…let’s say it don’t end up well for them and leave it at that.
It isn’t long before word about the Wand spreads and soon both Human and Orc gangbangers are looking for the gehooka, ruthlessly machine-gunning anybody in their way. Ward and Jakoby, with Tikka in tow are forced to go the run. Especially since they soon learn they have an especially dangerous Elf looking for them. Leilah (Noomi Rapace) is the leader of The Inferni, another fringe group but this is the one that wants to bring back The Dark Lord. She is the ownwe of the Magic Wand and she wants it back and doesn’t care how many Humans, Orcs and even her fellow Elves she has to kill to do so.
I really don’t understand the outright hatred BRIGHT seems to have generated among the very audience that one would expect to enjoy this sort of thing. I thought the mash-up of a 1980s Buddy Cop Action Movie with fantasy elements would be a movie welcomed with open arms. I suppose that those who hated “The Last Jedi” had some poison left over and had to direct it at something. Like I said earlier, Urban Fantasy isn’t my genre but still, I enjoyed BRIGHT. It’s a B-movie with an A-budget and talent and it’s no more than that. It’s designed to be a movie for you to watch on a Saturday night. It’s a movie that is definitely channeling the spirit of 1980s 42end St grindhouse.
Will Smith and Joel Edgerton run through the same tropes we’ve seen in movies of this sort. Despite Smith’s character having a wife and daughter (who we barely get to see) the real romance is between Ward and Jakoby and what they’re doing is working out their relationship differences while surviving shootouts with Orc and Human street gangs and knife wielding Elves with combat skills ninja would envy. It’s not a standout role for either but then again it doesn’t have to be for the material they’re working with. I especially admire Edgerton for having to act while buried under some really terrific makeup. Here’s a picture of him without the makeup so you can see what he looks like as in the makeup he’s totally unrecognizable:
Noomi Rapace appears to be having a lot of fun here and she’s demonstrated a talent for action movies. Ike Barinholtz and Margaret Cho appear in supporting roles as racist police officers and Edgar Ramirez is Kandomere, an Elf who apparently is a Big Dawg in the FBI’s Magic Division. He’s partnered with a Human, played by Happy Anderson and Netflix could easily get a series out of their characters alone.
So should you see BRIGHT? If you’ve got Netflix, why not? Let’s face it…there are way too many people on the Internet with way too much time on their hands who have nothing better to do with that time than shit on the hard work of professionals who do their best to present quality entertainment to the masses. Of course, no movie is perfect but nothing in life is. Movies like BRIGHT are meant to be entertainment, nothing more. You want a life changing experience, get religion and stop looking for it in your entertainment. No, it wasn’t the best movie of 2017 but neither is it as awful as you’ve been hearing. It’s in the middle of the road and sometimes, that’s good enough. Enjoy.