Review: Bright (2017)

Bright (2017)

Directed by: David Ayer | 117 minutes | action, crime, fantasy | Actors: Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Edgar Ramírez, Lucy Fry, Veronica Ngo, Alex Meraz, Happy Anderson, Ike Barinholtz, Dawn Olivieri, Matt Gerald, Margaret Cho, Joseph Piccuirro, Brad William Henke, Jay Hernandez, Enrique Murciano Scarlet Spencer, Andrea Navedo, Kenneth Choi, Bobby Naderic

Director David Ayer previously wrote the screenplay for “Training Day,” in which a young cop (Ethan Hawke) spends a day with the seasoned Harris (played by Denzel Washington, a role that earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor) in an anti- LA drug squad Ayer later directed the original documentary-style “End of Watch” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña about two young LAPD officers who face the harsh realities of street life every day. After the disappointing film adaptation of DC’s ‘Suicide Squad’, Ayer returns with another film about police officers in ‘the city of angels’: ‘Bright’.

Starring Will Smith and a virtually unrecognizable Joel Edgerton, this Netflix production centers on partners Ward (Smith) and Jakoby (Edgerton) in a fantasy version of LA. Creatures such as elves, humans and orcs live together in a hierarchical division of society where the elves form the elite and orcs are at the bottom of the social ladder. Humans are more or less in between. When Jakoby is the first Orc admitted to the LAPD and Ward is assigned him as a partner, the tone is set for a buddy cop movie. On one of their patrols, Ward and Jakoby are the first to report to a crime scene dripping with magic. When they find a magic wand there, they quickly become targets of their corrupt colleagues, criminal gangs, a dark secret society and the magic FBI.

‘Bright’ is a combination of fantasy, crime, thriller, comedy and police drama mixed with social lessons, which is an original starting point for a type of film that often reverts to standard film concepts. The social differences between the supernatural beings give way to comments like “fairy lives don’t matter” (pronounced by Will Smith’s character), which is undoubtedly a reference to the ‘black lives matter’ movement. Even when the human police officers use unreasonable violence to knock down several Orcs, the film seems to point to the discussion about the abuse of power by officers against minorities. On top of that comes a thick layer of magical powers, which makes the film burst from its own seams, especially in the second half. It cannot be easy to successfully bring all these different elements into a coherent whole. And unfortunately that didn’t work.

Where Disney’s ‘Zootropolis’ (completely different film, but deeply the same concept) managed to process subjects such as the race issue and discrimination in an entertaining whole, Ayer is unable to tie up the many loose ends. ‘Bright’ is just a bit too much of everything, so that the whole is just nothing in the end.

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