Sunday, March 11, 2018

BRIGHT (2017) ** ½

Bright works under the assumption that elves, fairies, and orcs are real and have been around for thousands of years.  It almost plays like a remake of Alien Nation written by J.R.R. Tolkien.  It’s a clever twist on your typical cops and robbers story; almost clever enough for you to overlook its weaknesses.  Almost.  

Will Smith plays a cop who is saddled with an orc partner (Joel Edgerton).  Since he’s the first orc cop on the force, he faces orcism on a daily basis.  When the duo finds a magic wand that grants wishes, dirty cops, gangbangers, street orcs, and a team of elf assassins come out in droves to steal it.  It’s then up to Smith and Edgerton to put their differences aside and protect the wand at all costs.

The best parts of Bright are the early scenes that sets up the characters and the world they inhabit.  I liked the class elements at play.  Elves were the rich and elite while the orcs were mostly portrayed as the common street thug.  I appreciated Edgerton’s predicament of being torn between two worlds and Smith’s struggle to protect his partner from harm while dealing with his own trust issues.  Both Smith and Edgerton give fine performances and have chemistry to spare.

Once the magic wand is introduced, the fun drains out of the movie.  Then it becomes one interchangeable scene of the duo narrowly avoiding one group of corrupt beings after the other.  It also doesn’t help that the villainess (Noomi Rapace) is about as boring and personality-free as they come.  

To his credit, director David Ayer (who previously collaborated with Smith on Suicide Squad) films the action crisply.  He just seems a little out of his element during all the magical shit.  It’s a shame too because there was some potential here.  Too bad Max Landis’ script runs out of invention (and gas) about halfway through.

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