Bright features Will Smith in an action-packed Sci/Fi drama

MIKE MCGEE | 1/15/2018, 3:23 a.m.
The Netflix film Bright, released on the subscriber service Dec. 22, is an intriguing mix of film genres that is ...
Los Angeles police officer Daryl Ward (Will Smith) is constantly torn between trying to get rid of his new diversity hire partner, Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), or give him a fair chance to be a police officer, in the Netflix film Bright. The Dallas Examiner screenshots

The Dallas Examiner

The Netflix film Bright, released on the subscriber service Dec. 22, is an intriguing mix of film genres that is apparently intended to be a holiday blockbuster for the relatively new world of digital video streaming. To that end, casting Will Smith as Los Angeles police officer Daryl Ward – a public servant in a world where humans have for centuries shared the planet with elegant elves, brutish orcs, barbarians, fairies and dragons and where magic is as accepted as science and more powerful than common firearms – was a wise move.

Smith has perhaps been best known in the past for his summertime successes, and the creators of Bright are attempting to rekindle some of that out-of-the-world Men In Black magic. But after a few years of notable misfires – After Earth; the love-it-or-hate-it Suicide Squad – the actor’s foray in an effects-heavy, subscriber-based television movie could be a new career move that pays off for all involved.

Bright appears to be a fairly straightforward but odd tale, according to its advertisement and media buildup. Ward is teamed up with diversity hire Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) as his partner, the nation’s first orc police officer.

It is a move no human or orc is particularly happy with; as the various races and species have generally intermingled and assimilated, elves have gone through the centuries from wise and mysterious creatures to becoming elitist, self-segregating beings due to their natural skill with magic. Orcs, on the other hand, were the losers of an eons-long war fought in support of an evil creature called the Dark Lord. For that, all of humanity and the mythological alike look down on orcs, viewing them all as contemptible. The end result is that the orcs embrace this projection and are engaged in either military warfare, menial jobs or gang-banging organized crime. An orc as a cop is seen as a traitorous, untrustworthy role by the whole of society.

As Daryl and Nick work around their differences – and a group of human officers so emotionally corrupted by their anger and disgust with the orc that they hatch a plan to eliminate him – the federal Magic Task Force has learned that a wand has appeared in Los Angeles.

In this supernatural world, wands are powerful conduits for magic, “a nuclear weapon that grants wishes,” one character notes. But wands can only be handled by a “bright”– usually but not always.

Complicating the MTF’s duty to secure the wand are human and orc gangs out to claim the wand as their own. In addition, an underground coterie of renegade elves, the Inferni, led by Leilah (Noomi Rapace), are after the wand in an attempt to bring back the Dark Lord. Meanwhile, an equally underground group called the Shield of Light is trying to prevent the Inferni from succeeding by struggling to hide the wand from humans, the more sinister elves, and the task force.

The greatest parts of the film combines elements of Smith’s past work: humor, effects, stunts, alien or otherworldly forces, and often with a socially-conscious viewpoint. Along with Edgerton, who is extremely gifted at hilariously confused or socially awkward deadpan delivery, Bright recalls the Bad Boys buddy cop films, the social drama of Ali, the subtext of alienated-superhero as a Black man in a White world in Hitchcock, conspiracy fears and unknown technology from I, Robot, and the swaggering but genial family man soldier from Independence Day.