Light up the night
Some things just go together: chocolate and peanut butter, fish and chips, popcorn and movies; fairy tale lore and L.A. gritty drama? I'd never thought I'd see the day where I'd come across a film like Bright, an odd amalgamation of The Lord of the Rings meets End of Watch. The film takes place in Los Angeles in an alternate present where orcs, elves and other mythical creatures have co-existed with humans for years, albeit a racially divided co-existence. Daryl Ward (Will Smith), a veteran L.A. officer is forced to partner up with Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), an orc who becomes the first of his race to be a police officer. Daryl is unhappy to be working with Jakoby since it's more likely to make him a bigger target from other gangs and criminal orcs but also because it causes tensions between him and his fellow officers. While on duty answering a disturbance call, the two come across an elf girl named Tikka (Lucy Fry) in possession of a magic wand, a powerful instrument with magical properties but can also be used for destructive purposes. Word gets out to all of the criminal underworld of L.A. about the existence of the wand, which catches the attention of every gang faction gunning for it. Despite their distrust for each other, the two work together to survive the night and uncover Tikka's connection to the wand.
Bright is surprisingly not too overwhelming with regards to the fairy tale mythology. Director David Ayer streamlines that factor, placing more emphasis on the themes of racism and social indifference between minorities, the orcs being the race that is constantly looked down upon as an inferior class whereas elves reign as successful, and to an extent, dangerous group. It's clear what Ayer was going for however; as the story progresses, the film starts feeling less like District 9 and more like Bad Boys as our two heroes go from location to location blowing up stuff and mowing down bad guys while shooting one-liner quips to each other. It's not so much a complaint but more as something I wanted to point out given how the trailer for this film made it seem as though the racial topics would be a focal point that was
going to be addressed. In the end, the film is more of a gritty buddy-cop action flick that just happens to feature mythical creatures, and on that front, Bright succeeds. The chemistry between Smith and Edgerton is surprisingly fluid as their characters play off each other with rhythmic ingenuity, despite one of them being an orc. This is credit to David Ayer who has always had a unique talent for writing brilliant characters in his films: Smith's character is a hardened vet with reservations working with Jakoby but regardless sticks to his morals. Jakoby, despite being an orc, is the most relatable character of the film's cast in terms of being oppressed, always wanting to do the right thing and trying to prove his worth. Despite it's rather strange premise, Bright succeeds in being both an entertaining buddy cop film as well as an intriguing sci-fi story although the end results are a bit uneven. There are some questions left unanswered including a few details in the story that were overlooked but I'm guessing this was intentional for a possible sequel which at this point seems likely now. It was a long time coming but it seems Netflix may have finally found a film franchise they can call their own.