Listen Up, Geek! Bright is the Gritty, Fantasy Cop Drama You Never Knew You Needed!
Honestly, the concept behind Bright felt like it could either be amazing or the dumbest thing ever made. David Ayer, the director of Training Day and Suicide Squad, brings us a movie that is essentially a gritty, urban, cop drama with fantasy creatures. It sounds a little far-fetched, even for a geek like me, which is probably why they threw in Will Smith just to make sure people would actually give it a chance. Well, nerds, I’m happy to announce that Bright is good enough to be your next Dungeons and Dragons campaign. That is to say, it’s fun as hell and left me wanting more of the bizarre and fantastic world it creates.
Bright is very much like End of Watch, except with orcs, elves, fairies, and (if you watch close enough) a minotaur. Just take a second to wrap your mind around that. A world, where the LAPD is less worried about using excessive force on black people and more about “protecting and serving” magical creatures. Of course, to make the film even more dramatic the heroes of the story are mismatched human and orc partners, Daryl Ward (Will Smith) and Nick Jackoby (Joel Edgerton). Off to a rough start, these two find themselves in for the fight of their lives when they recover a magic wand from a crime scene and have to protect it from gangsters, corrupt cops, and killed elves. Honestly, the whole thing is just dumb enough to work, and I loved it.
Of course, the whole film is a heavy-handed metaphor for class dispersity and prejudice we see in society in modern times. Orcs are the ones facing constant racism from humans, especially Edgerton’s Jackoby, who is constantly fighting an uphill battle to not only be accepted by the rest of the police force but his partner as well. The other orcs in Bright are gangbangers, content to the savage life of crime they’re pushed into by society. On the other side are the elves, which represent the one percent. The upper crust of society, content to live lavish lifestyles flaunting their wealth and self-proclaimed superiority. Stuck between them are the humans, who are, well, pretty much just humans. Just to make sure that this metaphor really hits home, we see an orc paired with a black partner. As blatant as the message behind this is, it feels oddly appropriate given the material and never really feels like it’s preaching it’s message, only painting a picture of this strange world.
Will Smith is the backbone of Bright, using his charm for all it’s worth to make this Netflix film feel very much like a full-blown theatrical release. Luckily, his partner is just as charming and makes an adorable orc, a sentence I never thought I would be writing as a film critic. Still, this duo has such an interesting dynamic that it’s hard not to let them suck you into the story. As unnatural as Bright might be, the chemistry between these two is effortless and one of the best parts of this film.
However, the absolute best part of Bright is the action sequences. As simple as the plot might be, your typical cops trying to survive the night scenario, the use of magical creatures in gunfights and car chases are what firmly set this apart from every other cliched cop flick. That isn’t to say that Bright doesn’t have more than its fair share of cliches, but they seem a bit more forgivable given the nature of the beasts committing them. Honestly, I absolutely fell in love with the elf enforcers who bring all the grace you might expect from Lord of the Rings to LA gunfights in clubs. They truly are a sight to behold.
The real downside to Bright is that it never manages to finish strong. Everything is going great until the last ten minutes or so, where it tries to put a neat bow on everything. With how gritty and destructive the rest of the film was, this “happy” ending feels out of place. That isn’t to say that everything turns out ok, but there feels like a lot of unresolved issues are brushed over for the sake of runtime. Then again, that could be because I was so desperate to see more of this world that Ayers managed to create. As amazing as this movie is, I can’t help but cross my fingers that Netflix will see fit to give viewers an original series set in this gritty fantasy world. Especially since this movie is so much better than some of the other recent films we’ve gotten from the streaming service.
Personally, I’m really happy that Bright was released in December. With how disappointing some movies have been, it’s (pardon the phrase) a beacon of light for those that are looking for a fun action movie to send the year strong. It’s definitely not a perfect movie, but it’s a blast to watch. Best of all, it firmly plants it’s feet in two genres that should be popular with most people and blends them together in such a way that I’m sure will leave most fans satisfied. It just might be that the most fun you can have at the movies, is sitting at home on your couch. Just don’t expect to “Netflix & Chill” with this one, because you’ll probably be too busy watching to see what happens next to bother with all that hanky panky.