Unrated, 117 minutes
The disjointed new Netflix fantasy cop drama "Bright" is a misfire and a big disappointment considering the talent involved. The overly ambitious narrative tries to combine action, violence and sci-fi fantasy while throwing in some social commentary, but almost none of that works effectively.
In an alternate present where humans and fantasy creatures—Orcs, Fairies, Elves, Centaurs, Dwarves etc.—have co-existed since the beginning of time, human LAPD officer Daryl Ward ("Suicide Squad's" Will Smith) and Orc rookie officer Nick Jakoby ("Loving's" Joel Edgerton) embark on a routine patrol night, only to discover an ancient—but powerful—artifact: a magic wand, that was thought to be destroyed, and encounter a darkness that will ultimately alter the future and their world as they know it.
Made, distributed and currently streaming on Netflix, "Bright" is some convoluted mess about a dumb magic wand and the challenges in obtaining it. The fantasy cop drama is essentially a bloodier, more serious version of "Alien Nation," which did this type of thing better with some lighter touches. Netflix paid a lot of dough for the big-budgeted film, though it wastes a story that had potential, not to mention a stellar cast that includes Smith and Edgerton, underneath a load of make up.
It's directed by David Ayer, who tries to combine a couple of his other films, the crime drama "End of Watch" and the fantasy "Suicide Squad," and he wastes what was likely a provocative script from "Chronicle's" Max Landis. Ayer adds plenty of alien gang shootouts, violence and special effects, even if it doesn't advance the story much, then tries to awkwardly insert a few monologues (that are usually yelled by Smith) about racial tolerance to try to give the film some heft; note to Ayer, whatever you were trying to achieve, doesn't work.
The original girl with the dragon tattoo, Noomi Rapace, is an evil elf villain, while Edgar Ramirez ("Carlos") and Lucy Fry ("11.22.63") appear as others trying to help (or hurt) the good guys, Smith and Edgerton. One bright spot about "Bright," the special effects and make up are serviceable for the fantasy genre, even if Edgerton doesn't appear to be having a good time with it.
"Bright" is a big, expensive mess of a movie, with loads of explosions and violence yet an incoherent story that'll leave you scratching your head, particularly one of the most confusing climaxes of any film I've seen in recent memory. Unfortunately, the folks at Netflix feel otherwise and just ordered a sequel, so we'll get even more of this dreck in the near future.