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Review: Bright

Bright
12.21.2017
5 10

PLOT: In a fantastical, yet brutal, modern Los Angeles, two LAPD officers - one is human and the other is an orc - seach for a deadly weapon that can kill every single soul in its presence.

REVIEW: There are a few things I admire about the latest from director David Ayer. By taking his gritty visual style and mixing in fantasy elements, he has presented an intriguing concept. So much so that I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing another shot at it. However, there is also bad news. BRIGHT attempts to be a whole lot of things at once. It is a fantasy. There is the brutal cop drama aspect with a little humor thrown in. It offers up a social statement. And you even have a couple of entertaining villains, with a solid cast playing in a world filled with orcs, elves and pesky fairies. All of this takes place in a very gritty and realistic Los Angeles setting. Sometimes it works, and sometimes if all goes a bit overboard.

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LAPD Officer Daryl Ward (Will Smith) is having a rough time. After recovering from being shot, he must go to work with a partner he isn’t comfortable with. What makes his partner Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) special is that he is the only Orc on the police force. When a group of cops conspire to get rid of Jakoby due to the Orc/Human hatred, both Ward and his partner realize they have an even bigger problem on their hands. You see, in this society the elves are the rich and powerful. And when a particularly evil elf Leillah (Noomi Rapace) looses her deadly magic wand, she will do anything to get it back. Even going after the one who has tried to break free from her, a frightened elf named Tikka (Lucy Fry). Not only will Ward and Jakoby face off against their fellow officers, they must deal with killer elves and anyone else looking to gain the power of the wand.

Let’s start off with the plot. The script written by Max Landis is many things. It’s extremely convoluted, juvenile and ridiculous, yet you have to give it some credit for being as insane as it is. While the story centers around the buddy cop relationship between the film’s two stars, it tries very hard to be something more. The subject of racism is brought up a few times in less than subtle ways. The police officers, including the strangely effective casting of Margaret Cho as their superior, all want Jakoby gone because he is an orc. It’s an interesting idea and sci-fi can be the perfect way to deal with controversial subjects, but here the message feels a bit forced. In a film that already has way too much going on, any impact the message may have is lost.

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When it comes to the wild and weird, David Ayer manages to pull off a few fun moments. This genre mix-up smartly uses a much darker, yet contemporary version of Los Angeles. Yet he does get a bit creative with the many fantastical elements. Much of the fun is when the wild and wicked elves arrive. Noomi Rapace is having a blast a vicious baddie in search of her deadly magic wand. I also quite enjoyed seeing Lucy Fry (Wolf Creek Season 1) as the elvish girl who may be a “Bright” - the only creatures that can hold the magic wand without killing themselves and everyone around them. Visually speaking, Ayer was able to create a sometimes intriguing visual canvas.

When it comes to the performances, there is a little chemistry between Will Smith and Joel Edgerton. Although at times the constant bickering became repetitive. And frankly, Smith’s Ward was a bit unlikable. Joel however, is quite good as an Orc who really just wants to be a good police officer. The rest of the cast is an eclectic mix. You have familiar action or dramatic stars like Smith, Edgerton, Rapace and Edgar Ramirez. Then you have a few comedic names like Cho and Ike Barinholtz. However, the dirty cops looking to get to the wand do not do the movie any favors when it comes to pacing. They could have taken a good ten to twenty minutes off - maybe even removed these characters almost entirely - and it may have helped tighten things up.

BRIGHT is an interesting concept, and David Ayer does a decent job putting it on-screen. Considering this is from Netflix, I perhaps would have a decent enough time watching it on the channel. Ayer has embraced this mash up with gusto and it certainly looked impressive on the big screen which is where I saw it. Yet for a paying viewer, I’m not sure that I could recommend it. I did enjoy much of what Smith and Edgerton brought to their roles and frankly, I wouldn’t necessarily say no to another one if they didn’t get carried away on the outlandish script. Yet on it’s own, this is a bit of a mess when it comes to story and a heavy-handed attempt at offering a social message. Unless you're a huge fan of the film’s stars, you'll be better off checking this out on the small screen in the comfort of your own home.

Source: JoBlo.com

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