Bright (2017)

It’s David Ayer with another cop drama except rather than a socially relevant tale about mismatched officers of a different race or gender or religion—it’s got Orcs! “Bright” is by no means as clever as it thinks it is, as it uses fantasy tropes not to move the story forward or to lend a new twist to the cop drama, but to hammer us over the head with clumsy allegories and symbolism. Max Landis’ script is painfully stale and lacks any kind of idea as to what it’s trying to get across. It’s much too serious to take as a fantasy film, and not silly enough to take it as a meta-cop movie. Even the opening scene of Will Smith’s character beating a fairy to death on his front lawn with a broom is flat and never quite played up as a meta joke, so much as a poorly delivered device to alert us that we’re watching a “different” kind of cop movie.

It’s different! It’s edgy and fantasy based! There are orcs, and orc gangsters, and elven mobsters, all of whom fight kung fu and stuff! And there are loads of winks and nudges to racism and prejudice by using Orcs as an avatar for minorities in America. David Ayer’s “Bright” is a stock cop thriller, except in this reality fantasy beasts are embedded in our society and exist as shunned minorities. After a war, the humans and Orcs called a truce and the Orcs became minorities (Get it?) generally looked down on by others (get it?) for their stereotypical small brain capacity (Get it?). They’re mostly just seen as gang members and or violent criminals (Get it?), save for Nick, a noble Orc who is a police officer desperate to be taken seriously by his brothers. He’s teamed with a prejudiced beat cop named Scott who has zero respect or regard for his kind (Get it, yet?), and things get worse when an Orc gang member almost kills Scott one fateful afternoon.

After his miraculous recover, the pair is teamed again to investigate the sudden appearance of a lone female elf who is wielding a forgotten relic. Said relic is a powerful wand that its master, a silent female elf and her deadly assistants, are seeking for the sake of ruling the world—or something. With the word out that the wand is up for grabs, Nick and Scott have to keep it out of interested hands including a disabled Mexican drug lord, crooked police, and the like. All the while maintaining their innocence and coming to a common ground—you know what? It’s all stuff you’ve seen before except it watches like a cheap fan fiction mash up all the way through to the end. “Bright” surprisingly lacks in a sense of humor, and never takes full advantage of the fantasy elements, preferring to stick more to humanoid mythical monsters and nothing else.

One scene even finds a Centaur police officer (as a stand in for a horse riding police officer) trying to break up a rowdy crowd. Though the sight gag has potential to be clever and fun, it’s merely glossed over and never explored. A lot more potential for big fantasy meets cop crime thriller is wasted, in favor of an overlong, dull, and badly acted mess. Smith plays a jack ass beyond redemption and I was never sure what accent Joel Edgerton was going for. It felt often like a mix of Mexican American and Native American, but it’s all so poorly handled. “Bright” had every chance to be a stand out genre outing, but it’s a huge misstep bereft of any kind of entertainment value.

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