In an attempt to expand Netflix’s catalog of original movies, Bright was purchased in March 2016 with Max Landis, who wrote 2012’s Chronicle and 2015’s American Ultra, writing the script and David Ayer coming off the much divisive Suicide Squad directing. Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Edgar Ramirez and Lucy Fry star in this action/fantasy mash up.
A Bright is referring to as someone who can wield magic. In this case, a magic wand. The film explains that most Brights are Elves and the possibilities of humans being Brights, but it is very rare. Much like the real world, the power the wand carries is sought after by Corrupt cops, gangsters, renegade elves, and orcs that come out of the wood work for it. It’s up to Ward (Smith) and Jakoby (Edgerton), the first Orc to serve in the police department, to survive and keep the wand out of the wrong hands.
The film starts off slow. Explaining a past event and setting up the conflict between Ward and Jakoby that gets resolved in a rather intense scene to wrap up the 1st act. Once the wand is introduced, the film goes into a different gear. The 1 hour and 57 minute run time works. There are a few scenes Bright could go without. Not to make the film shorter, but rather to enhance the world. One such scene involves a family that witnesses the conflict resulting the discovery of the wand. It shows off the ruthlessness of the Inferni, but a scene before it already showed that. I felt it was a retread.
The social aspect of Bright pits humans in the middle between the high class Elves and the low class Orcs. Elves being rich and successful (There is a certain hue of the Elves that you can’t help but notice) while the Orcs are seen as low rung meatheads. In some ways it does mirror our world and current social issues many face today. What resonated with me is the struggle Jakoby goes through. Not being accepted as police officer even in his own department that hired him and other Orcs who view him as an outcast or “a finger that has been cut off a hand”. We aren’t hit over the head with this too much.
Bright’s action scenes are another highlight. Ayer’s knack for up close gun fights and brawls in closed space are consistent with his past work like Street Kings and End of Watch. There is the right amount of gun play and gore to satisfy, yet toes the line between action and horror. Most of the comedy hits. Ward’s foul mouth dialogue fits Smith’s character like a glove. Jakoby’s comedic moments make him very likable and my favorite character.
Noomi Rapace plays the main antagonist Leilah, a leader of rogue elves known as the Inferni and a Bright. An actress of her caliber I felt was wasted in this role. She shows she can do action well and I hope to see her in more roles like this, but with more dialogue as she has very little. My other complaint is her character’s narrative seems to change from when she is introduced to the end of the movie. A change of heart that doesn’t make sense.
The 3rd acts also somewhat falters near the end (Has this become a trend recently?) One of my pet peeves is going back to a previous set piece to finish a story. To me that is back tracking and maybe lack of creativity. There is also one big plot hole in the form of The Dark Lord. An omnipresent being that will rule over the 9 races by prophecy (We are only formally introduced to humans, elves and orcs in the film, but other mythical beings are teased) We don’t get any visual ques or teases other than word of mouth through the film.
At the time of this review going up, news has come out that a sequel has been planned with Smith returning, but no word on involvement from other pillars of Bright. I for one am excited at the potential of expanding this world Landis and Ayer have put on screen. I will say that I’m grateful Netflix released this and made available to all with an account. I’m not too confident the general movie going audience would have seen this.
- Fantastic world building begging to be explored
- Action and comedy gel together well enough
- Smith and Edgerton's characters entertain
- Weak main antagonist
- 3rd act could have been more creative
- Some throw away scenes could have made for a better watch.