(US - 2017)
Directed by David Ayer. Written by Max Landis. Cast: Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Edgar Ramirez, Lucy Fry, Ike Barinholtz, Brad Henke, Veronica Ngo, Happy Anderson, Margaret Cho, Enrique Murciano, Jay Hernandez, Alex Meraz, Dawn Olivieri, Matt Gerald, Joseph Piccuiro, Scarlet Spencer, Andrea Navedo, Cle "Bone" Sloan, Brandon Larracuente. (Unrated, 117 mins)
Netflix enters the realm of the brain-dead blockbuster with the $90 million BRIGHT, the follow-up teaming of star Will Smith and director David Ayer after last year's SUICIDE SQUAD, a film that grossed $750 million worldwide despite nobody really liking it all that much. While SUICIDE SQUAD's contributions to pop culture are limited to teenage girls and MILFs dressing as Harley Quinn for Halloween and this image accompanying any article on Margot Robbie for the rest of her life, BRIGHT is a film nobody will remember a week from now. Nobody's dressing as a BRIGHT orc for Halloween. Playing like the rough draft of a gritty L.A. cop script if written by the late Gary Gygax after he just saw ALIEN NATION in 1988 and immediately ran it through his shredder, BRIGHT tries to fuse Ayer's love of cop movies into the realm of otherworldly fantasy, existing in a present-day world where humans, orcs, and elves have co-existed since the defeat of the "Dark Lord" 2000 years ago. In an effort to promote the appearance of diversity, the LAPD has given burned-out cop--is there any other kind?--Daryl Ward (Smith) an Orc partner named Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton under extensive old-school prosthetics). There's some heavy-handed allegorical implications of racism in an era of controversial police shootings of unarmed black men, with the insulated "protect the shield" attitude extending to the calculated ostracizing of Jakoby. Ward pleads with his watch commander Sgt. Ching (Margaret Cho) to get a new partner, but since nobody wants to work with him either, the two are forced to pair up...if they don't kill each other first!
who the Bright will be?). Ching and three other dirty cops arrive, planning to plant the wand on Jakoby and accuse him of stealing it, using that as an excuse to kill Jakoby and Ward, who hates Jakoby but refuses to go along with railroading a fellow officer. Ward ends up killing the other cops to protect Jakoby, and the three find themselves on the run, fleeing a variety of pursuers: the L.A.P.D.; villainous dark elf Leilah (Noomi Rapace), who's after the the wand and Tikka; evil Orc gang leader Dorghu (Brad Henke), and Kandemore (Edgar Ramirez), an elf agent in the FBI's "Division of Magic."
landing looking down, then lifting her head to make eye contact with Ward.
"Hammer Smashed Face," calling it "one of the great love songs." Elsewhere, tiny fairies are regarded as common household pests. Ward swats one with a broom, quipping "Fairy lives don't matter today!" which is one of many Smith groaners that clang to the ground throughout (other witticisms include "A Bright came in and used the wand to magic everyone the fuck up!" and "You fucked over my life for some stupid Orc knucklehead?" and "You're gonna need to unfuck us! Magic us to Palm Springs or some shit!"). Edgerton comes off the best, not surprising given that he's playing the most sympathetic character and one who's discriminated against by his colleagues as well as his own kind for selling out to become a cop and for being an "unblooded orc," whatever that is. BRIGHT can be summed up best by a perfectly appropriate event that takes place at exactly the halfway point: the action stops cold for a long dialogue scene that exists simply so Kandemore can deliver a mid-film exposition dump to his cynical partner Montehugh (Happy Anderson) in an attempt to catch the viewer up to speed on the incoherent plot. While it serves its purpose, it does prompt a bewildered Montehugh to offer the ultimate BRIGHT auto-critique: "What a shitshow."