Bright follows two cops in an alternate-reality modern day Los Angeles, where magic is real and humans live among orcs, elves and fairies. Ward (Will Smith), a human, and Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), an orc, must learn to put aside their racial differences to stop a magic wand from getting into the wrong hands and summoning an ancient evil entity.
It's quite obvious from the get-go that this film is a strong commentary on racial tensions in the United States. It fairly critiques the ignorance and indifference our culture as a whole has toward racial biases and prejudices present in our world. The film goes from subtlety to blatant mockery of today's moral compass to the point that it's a bit too brash and disengaging, instead of embracing the natural boundaries and treating it like a parable.
The dialogue is sadly mechanical and doesn't have the same appeal that most movies Will Smith is in that feature his trademark delivery and banter. The innocence of Jakoby verges on naivety too often, and it throws off the dynamics on several occasions. The imbalance is distracting at times.
The film falls more in the realm of director David Ayer's Suicide Squad than his far superior End of Watch. The more fantastical the angle, the worse his movies get, but at least Bright wasn't quite that far on the Suicide Squad end of the spectrum. Ayer's knack for extracting personality and character dynamics in crime thrillers far outweighs his eye for powerful action sequences and meaningful plot development.
Bright is somehow superficially enjoyable despite itself. I had a good time watching it, but I rarely chuckled and never felt engaged with the story or characters. The first few minutes of the film seem to quickly establish the groundwork for each character and their world, and then the rest of the production fails to deepen that foundation. I care more about the evolution of Ward and Jakoby's relationship than the film creators do.
I get no firm concept for the motivations of any other character in the movie. They are simply forces that further the plot. Dare I say it, but the movie is a complete waste of Noomi Rapace and Edgar Ramirez's talents. At least Ramirez gets a few times to shine, but Rapace is spending so much time flying around in a green-screen harness to get any decent moments to actually act.
Despite admittedly enjoying watching the movie, there is little redeemable about it. The plot, beyond its very interesting setting, is pointless. The characters are one-dimensional, if they have any dimension at all. And the action sequences are mostly forgettable, as I try to recall them even now. And to get little out of Will Smith's opportunities to give us some much-needed comedic relief was beyond disappointing. I miss 90's Will Smith. At least this movie tried to get him back.
Side Note - I embrace and adore Netflix for attempting a film like this with an R rating. I hope that they continue to try and get it right. We need more attempts like this to find those truly special stories that have yet to be made into film.