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Bright (2017)



Set in a world where fantasy creatures live side by side with humans. A human cop is forced to work with an Orc to find a weapon everyone is prepared to kill for.


So, a film of two halves. Director David Ayer (Suicide Squad) does a solid job of the initial fare: Bad Boys III without Martin Lawrence. Will Smith (Bad Boys) is a worthy action man in this worn-down-cop-against-the-system action flick with the twist of being fantasy as well, as Detective Daryl Ward. For all the running (no longer shirtlessly as age is taking a toll on Mr. Smith), and car chases, shootouts in strip clubs, etc, the addition of a fantasy alternate reality is great. Joel Edgerton (Black Mass) plays under prosthetic as Nick Jakoby, Ward's orc partner. 

The plot revolves around wands, weapons of unimaginable power, and brights - those who wield the ability to control a wand. Basically, Ward and Jakoby have a wand, and everyone wants it. It's not Shakespearean in anyway, but standard action film fodder. And rather good this aspect is. But the second aspect of the film causes a problem. The screenplay (written by Max Landis (Chronicle)) reaches for something that it fails to grasp.

Joel Edgerton (Left) / Will Smith

From the very beginning of the film it is made clear that racial tension between some of the fantasy races is very real. Handling racism in a Will Smith action movie is always going to be tough - it needs a light touch, deft story telling, and a grasp and understanding of a very delicate issue. 

Sadly, this film tackles the light, deftness, with a big stick with RACISM written on it, and clubs the audience at every turn. And worse than that, it does it pretty much atrociously, and leaves a bit of a bad taste in the mouth.

With a new focus of hate, Orcs, the human race has never been so multi-cultural. Never have I seen a police department so rife with actors of each and every culture. Great. Except now, they're all racist a-hats. Will Smith comes across as one of the biggest - blaming Jakoby for him being shot, because Jakoby should be able to buy Ward a burrito, while still acting as his partner and protector. 

And it gets worse. 

Ward goes from telling his daughter that everyone should be treated the same no matter what they look like on the outside, to swatting a fairy on the lawn to the line, Fairy lives don't matter today. Clearly a heavy handed play on the Black Lives Matter movement. It's backwards, and I hope accidentally, stinks of All Lives Matter. 

Then, there is the portrayal of orcs. They are all blooded gang members. They all act as movies have portrayed for years as being 'in the hood'. 


It's all distasteful. 

With such a tender subject - especially when so much good could have been done - it would have been better if the movie stuck to what it should have. Action / Fantasy. With the announcement of the forthcoming sequel with the writing talents of Max Landis being replaced by Ayer himself, it's only a guess that the studio agrees.

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