Bright is a well-intentioned movie that misses the mark multiple times. To give a quick summary Bright is movie about racism but instead of white people and people of color you have Orcs as the disenfranchised and Elves as the privileged. Oh there is mention of seven other races but with the exception of faeries they never appear on the screen. The concept is an intriguing one but the execution is shoddy.
One problem with the way David Ayer tackles the issue of racism is that the disenfranchised and the privileged have no interactions pertaining to the systematic racism in the world of Bright. Instead this is left to the interactions between Ward (a black cop) and Jakoby (an orc). What is problematic about this is that those who hold the most privileged never have to grow as people nor do they learn why the world works in their favor. Also it is a bit disengaging when you realized that Jakoby is played by a white actor.
Another problem is the makeup of the humans living in Bright shown in the world. Besides a group of what seems to be gangbangers introduced earlier in the movie Will Smith seems to be the only black person in the movie. There are other people of color in the movie though. However the majority of this are Latino gangsters.
Then thirdly there is issue with the reasoning behind the hatred for the Orcs. It is mentioned in the movie that the Orcs are hated because long ago they had sided with a dark lord. Although hating someone because of past actions is wrong, it is not racism. Also, it gives the impression that people of color are treated unfairly because they picked the wrong side morally which is not the case nor does it matter.
Now for the plot. The plot is a simple one with many familiar tropes such as the buddy cop duo, the prophetic hero, a corrupt police force and other ones you’ll easily recognize. The world building is also subpar. Like I said earlier in the review there is mention of nine races but there is no mention of these different cultures or races except for four which are Elves, Orcs , Humans and Faeries. However even then what you know about the differing cultures is severely limited.
The movie’s strong point is the interactions between Will Smith and Joel Edgerton. They play off each other well to make a good buddy cop duo. Will Smith also does a solid job of portraying a once idealistic cop now harden by years on the force and the ugliness of the world.
The effects are also beautiful and solidly done. There are moments in the movie where the use or aftermath of magic is depicted in a truly awing fashion. The makeup job for the Orcs and Elves is also pretty good.
Verdict: Bright is by no means a terrible movie but it is not a good one. It tries to be a social commentary on racism but ultimately fails in that aspect. It’s plot is also an average and not too terribly exciting one.