Bright (2017) – Review.

Directed by David Ayer, Bright tells a story where humanity co-exists in a world inhabited with mythical creatures such as Elves, Fairies and Orcs.

Will Smith stars as inner city cop Daryl Ward who believes that he has the misfortune to be partnered up with Los Angeles’ first ever Orc cop Nick Jakoby (Joel Eggerton). So far, so weird, but it gets weirder. When Jakoby and Ward attend a call, they find the glowing remnants of several bodies, a scared Elf called Tikka (Lucy Fry) and a magic wand!

Still with us? Well it turns out that possession of this wand is a pretty big deal. You see, if you possess the required magical abilities to wield this wand then the world is pretty much your oyster. You can conjure up anything you need. As it’s explained, you want a million dollars then why not conjure up ten million? Naturally a lot of people fancy becoming the new owner of this magical item, including dirty cops, inner city gang bosses and a band of evil Elves who are desperate to get the wand so they can summon up a dark lord who was banished 2,000 years ago. What follows is a nighttime chase through the ghettos of downtown Los Angeles as Ward and Jakoby, who now find themselves wanted men, trying desperately to protect both the wand and Tikka.

Ok, I know this may all sound a bit silly and to a degree it is, but Bright somehow kind of works. It’s by no means a great film ,however it’s an original and bold attempt at one. I must admit that having seen the trailer, I’d formed the initial opinion that it looked like a mash up of Alien Nation and Harry Potter, with a smattering of Lord of the Rings and Men in Black for good measure.

The premise of the fantastical is played down by Ayer’s direction, as it would be if such a world was the norm. The story and script by Max Landis is perhaps a little more ham fisted in its message. The clear tone of racial tension is present in the hierarchy that defines the different species. Orcs are very much the bottom of the ladder class wise, humans seem to sit somewhere in between and the Elves appear to be the elite, powerful and rich. At one point they show a centaur Police horse but we never find out anything about them, and fairies just appear to be annoying pests.

Director David Ayer is no stranger to tales of inner city cops with his previous films End of Watch and Training Day (which he wrote) and this offering in no way measures up against those films, but I can’t help but be impressed that he’s tried to at least do something so different. In a few stolen scenes as the two mismatched officers find themselves bonding through their adversary, you almost find yourself somehow thinking that the film has somehow missed a trick by not focusing more on their characters, rather than the frenetic fantasy world that surrounds them. The film tries it’s best to cram in a lot of action and story into it’s just under two hour runtime and inevitably suffers as a result.

Will Smith plays virtually the same character he’s played in several previous films, but I did sense that he was at least attempting to tone down his Will Smithiness a smidge. Another surprising factor was the amount of swearing his character does. I’ve always been under the impression that he tries to avoid such things in a script, preferring to convey a squeaky clean persona. Joel Eggerton is unrecognisable under the make-up and prosthetics but manages to bring heart and feeling to what could easily have been a very one dimensional character. Fry really doesn’t have much to do with her role, which comes across as a sub-par version of Leeloo from The Fifth Element. Still, the quality of the action scenes manage to keep the film entertaining and watchable to a degree.

Bright is Netflix’s biggest investment in a single film so far with a reported budget of around $90 million and only time will tell if this will prove to be an expensive folly or the start of a film studio that is not afraid to take risks on a larger scale.

Film ‘89 Verdict – 6/10.

Bright is available on Netflix now (regional variances may apply).