‘Bright’: Weak Social Commentary With an Even Weaker Plot. Spoiler-Free Review
Netflix’s latest released film Bright was supposed to be their first blockbuster, but instead, we get a dull story with a weak social commentary. Even with an interesting premise, the film never fully capitalizes on its potential and we’re left with nothing but a boring film.
The film is set in modern times LA, but with a fantastical spin to it. Elves, Orcs, Fairies, and Humans have coexisted for over 2000 years. There are prophecies, and there are rare beings known as “Bright’s” who can wield magic; most of which are Elvish but humans can be one as well. The film does a good job on setting up the world; we learn early on that Elves are the elite one percent while Orcs are systematically oppressed, but instead of exploring that within the plot, it’s more glanced over and has a few mentions here and there.
The basic premise is this: a veteran cop Daryl Ward (Will Smith) is partnered up with the “diversity hire” Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), the first Orc in the LAPD. While out on a patrol run, they find a strange Elf, Tikka (Lucy Fry), who has a magic wand that can give the user anything it wants, but only a ‘Bright’ can wield it. What ensues is a chase by several groups of people after the wand. There’s this deadly cult going after the wand to bring back the Dark Lord. Who is the Dark Lord? What happened with the Dark Lord? Why are they bringing the Dark Lord back? We don’t know and it’s a horrible cliche that leads to one of the most anticlimactic fights of this year.
Also going after the wand is the FBI’s Magic Division led by Kandomere (Edgar Ramirez) who looks ridiculous even for the standard of the film. Every so often we pop in on them as they seem to always be one step behind. We also have a Chicano gang as well as an Orc gang that are used to fill in these subplots that are supposed to further the character development that actually has nothing to do with the main story.
The best part of the film is the chemistry between Will Smith and Joel Edgerton. With Will Smith, you have an idea of what you’re gonna get with him and we got some Bad Boys vibe, which isn’t necessarily bad, but nothing we haven’t seen before. Joel Edgerton plays a more gentle giant type character who fits in nowhere. He deals with constant harassment on the force and Orcs don’t like him because he’s a cop and he isn’t ‘blooded’. To be honest, I still don’t understand what it means to be ‘blooded’ and I’m sure I’m not the only one cause there’s a constant mention of it, but little to no explanation. Now admittedly, the banter between the two characters is enjoyable for the most part, but everything else feels so off.
The films pacing feels weird and if you really look at it, it’s a story we’ve seen before, with a cliche ending and antagonists that have no explanation for their goals. It also tries to be a social commentary on race tension and police brutality, but it just glosses over it to get to the main plot which isn’t interesting.
Bright was released on Netflix December 22, 2017.