Movie Review – Bright
I’ve been looking forward to this movie for months. Will Smith and Netflix are put together in a concept that is really up my alley. A modern day police drama with orcs and elves and a dark lord returning? Sign. Me. Up.
I love to see a mix of magic and real world problems and this movie delivers on the “What if?” of that concept and doesn’t hold back. There’s darkness and grit well mixed with humanity and humour.
Will Smith plays a human police officer who is paired with the first ever orc cop in a world where magical creatures are part of everyday life and the class divide is very sharp along racial lines. The first half hour of the story is spent making sure we understand that this world is racist to orcs. Everyone hates the orcs and the orc cop in particular. You really ought to know that. You’ll be shown it again and again. Everyone blames the orc cop for stuff that isn’t anything to do with him. They even put a “kick me” sign on his back in case you weren’t sure they were picking on him. They’re racist. He’s an orc. They hate him. Over and over and over. This movie REALLY wants you to understand this and draw the appropriate parallels to racism and minorities in America. If they rode that allegory any harder the SPCA would have fined them for cruelty.
Once that obligatory half hour set up is done, the story actually starts with the appearance of a wand that everybody wants to get their hands on but you need to be a Bright to wield safely. Here’s where the fun really begins. It’s action packed with a lot of people taking guns to a magic fight. There are shoot outs, freaky magic, gangsters, secret societies, and dodgy cops. There’s some nice humour in the banter between Will Smith’s character and his orc partner and I especially liked seeing a character with a disability in a position of power. The antagonists are kick-ass and cool (their look is reminiscent of the Defiance Castithans) and keep our heroes on their toes.
I felt the movie didn’t quite deliver on its potential (Very minor spoilers ahead.) and there were some missed opportunities. Will Smith’s character is given a recording device but doesn’t use it when it could have been most beneficial to do so – or indeed ever. The FBI achieve nothing but follow along behind the action and a bit of mop up at the end. An incredibly contrived moment between the orc cop and a gangster boy whose life he saved serves no purpose in the story whatsoever, and we never really see the Dark Lord. So there’s a lot of promise here that isn’t delivered on. I actually would have liked to see this made into an ongoing series so the potential could be teased out a bit more.
Despite these missed opportunities, I found it very enjoyable over all. I like the concept, there’s lots of action once it gets going and they’ve created an interesting, complex world. If you’re a fan of gritty urban fantasy, give this one a shot.