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Bright (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 15, 2020


BRIGHT (2017)

Starring Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry, Édgar Ramírez, Ike Barinholtz, Happy Anderson, Kenneth Choi, Margaret Cho, Andrea Navedo, Brad William Henke, Dawn Olivieri, Brandon Larracuente, Cle Shaheed Sloan, Alex Meraz, Matt Gerald, Enrique Murciano, Jay Hernandez, Veronica Ngo and Nadia Gray.

Screenplay by Max Landis.

Directed by David Ayer.

Distributed by Netflix. 117 minutes. Rated TV-MA.

Actors Will Smith and Joel Edgerton Shine a Light on A Strange Universe in Bright.

Built around a confusing, complicated plot and premise, director David Ayer’s Bright pursues an intriguing premise that ultimately doesn’t work. In an alternate universe, the world of Lord of The Rings – as conceived by author J.R.R. Tolkien – actually exists. So, in this contemporary alt-world Los Angeles, orcs, elves, fairies and other denizens of Middle Earth now live side by side with humans. But in such a “modern” world, the orcs are a disenfranchised society living on the edge in a ghetto alongside the Latino street gangs.

The elves live there as a socially elevated species, housed in their own gated communities. On top of that, this world is threatened by a cadre of renegade elves who can command immensely powerful magic wands with the intention of unleashing the ancient Dark Lord upon the Earth again after its defeat 2000 years ago.

The movie revolves around two disputatious LAPD police officers on patrol, veteran Daryl Ward (Will Smith) and a pioneering orc novice Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton). They fight off punk orcs, hassling fairies and a trio of berserker elves headed by Leila (Noomi Rapace), in order to retrieve one of these world-shattering wands from the evil ones. They fend off human antipathy to orcs, corrupt police officers, and elf/human federal agents who are tasked with combating the threatening conspiracy of the renegades who want to unleash evil on the Earth.

Within this fantastical LA, the duo tries to put aside their differences in order to combat the underworld’s sinister forces. Smith and Edgerton’s flip chatter adds a layer of irony to an ever-ridiculous plot line. Ayer’s gritty, rapid-fire directing – thanks to his long experience at driving action dramas such as Suicide Squad and Harsh Times – makes it easier for viewers to ignore the idea’s absurdities and to just tumble along for the ride.

Yet, at the end of the day, the brisk action shortcuts and breezy dialogue can’t hide an unconvincing compilation of set pieces that substitute for a fully realized concept and story. Maybe this should have been a limited series rather than a single feature, but if it’s ever meant to have a longer life than this one two-hour film, the powers that be at Netflix need to make this universe feel far more fleshed out, rather than being simply comic-bookish.

Brad Balfour

Copyright ©2017 All rights reserved. Posted: December 22, 2017.

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