"Orc lives matter"
, written by Max Landis (Chronicle
, Victor Frankenstein
) and directed by David Ayer (Fury
, Suicide Squad
) is a gigantic mess of a movie - the rare trainwreck that isn't lazy, derivative or uninspired, as much as it is a really interesting idea that was very poorly cobbled together.
is a cop action thriller set in an alternate version of Los Angeles where humans have co-existed with fantasy creatures such as orcs and elves for centuries, The movie that starts off promising only to completely disappear up its own ass by the end. Using fantastical elements and characters to offer social commentary on real-life issues is a tried-and-true formula and at first, this movie seems to have a pretty good handle on it.
The opening sequence, a montage of street graffiti of fantasy creatures, is incredibly striking and effective. It successfully communicates a sense of what this world is like and makes it feel lived in.
Police officer Daryl Ward (Will Smith) is partnered with the city's first orc cop, Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) and he's not exactly thrilled about it. Orcs are seen and treated as a lower class of citizen and just about everyone in the police department sees Nick as a cumbersome diversity hire at best, and a dangerous liability at worst. Nick also isn't popular with orcs since he's seen as a traitor to his race and a coward. The tension between the two partners is made worse by the fact that Ward was recently shot by an orc that Jakoby failed to catch afterwards.
So far, so good - it's a good story set-up in an unusual and interesting setting with solid leads. Ward is rough around the edges and a bit jaded but is otherwise a good cop stuck between a rock and a hard place. Jakoby wants to prove himself and be a force for good and has a bit of a Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy
oblivious-to-metaphors-and-sarcasm thing going for him.
The makeup for Edgerton's orkish appearance is quite good, Will Smith still has charisma to spare and the two exchange some good banter. The first third or so of the movie, where the two leads are just working off each other and have to deal with the day-to-day responsibilities of their job is easily the strongest.
It's still far from great, as more often than not the dialogue is overwrought, stilted or trying way too hard to be edgy ('Fairy lives don't matter today!' an angry Ward proclaims after beating a fairy to death with a broom), but there's enough that's good or intriguing about the opening stretch to keep your interest.
Once the main plot about a Magic Wand (this world's equivalent of a weapon of mass - or, I guess, magical - destruction) and renegade Elves that want to resurrect a Dark Lord kicks in, Bright
goes downhill fast. The movie essentially deteriorates into a series of increasingly overblown action scenes that go so over-the-top that they end up falling flat.
The street-level perspective is lost in an increasingly unfocused plot that involves prophecies, resurrection and all manner of nonsense that tends to come across as silly rather than meaningful or interesting. You still get a good moment or two on occasion - Ward and Jacoby have a heart-to-heart after a prolonged fight that's kind of nice - but as a whole Bright
gets less and less engaging as it goes on.
The villain (Noomi Rapace) has zero personality or presence and despite being set in a world that actually merits context and exploration, Bright
is far more interested in scenes involving its main characters running, shooting or running and shooting. Some of the action isn't bad, but most is just numbing in that trying-too-hard-to-be-cool way.
The most offensive thing about Bright
is how it tends to utilize its intriguing premise, world and characters in the worst way. I guess it's better to fail at trying to do something new and interesting than churn out another mediocre, derivative film but at the end of the day, for all its potential, Bright