"Interesting Premise, Disappointing Execution"
What You Need To Know:
BRIGHT is a creative take on what it would look like if the mythology around THE LORD OF THE RINGS was in the world today. While there are some possible spiritual connections and some Christian symbols, the movie seems more like a conglomerate of fantasy and occult elements the filmmakers fancied for their own story instead of developing a deeper spiritual allegory. Sadly, profuse amounts of strong foul language, graphic violence and occult content make BRIGHT excessive and unacceptable.
(OO, C, BB, PP, LLL, VVV, S, NN, AA, DD, MM) Strong occult worldview contains an occult fantasy premise with magic that doesn’t have strong biblical parallels and works more randomly, but does have some parallels to the Christian fantasy by Tolkien LORD OF THE RINGS, including elements of sacrifice and references to a cross, resurrection and the idea that God created everyone equal, plus strong moral elements extolling courage and doing the right thing against all odds and strong pro-police portrayals with negative portrayals of corrupt cops who betray the badge; 177 obscenities (including 117 f-words), four profanities, obscene gestures, and vomiting; very strong violence, many people are shot, an orc is beaten up violently, a body that’s been burnt is seen, a deformed elf has been morphed into the wall, people are hit by a car, many explosions, and a throat is sliced open; some references to sex; upper female nudity in a strip club and upper male nudity; moderate drinking; heavy drug use includes orcs snort cocaine; and racism and corrupt police officers.
BRIGHT is a fantasy adventure starring Will Smith that takes place in an alternative universe where elves, fairies, orcs, and other mythical creatures live in “peace” in modern day America. Though it looks like modern day America, it’s far from it. In this universe, an ancient battle between good and evil once took place. The humans, elves and other species fought against the evil “Dark Lord,” but the orcs fought for the Dark Lord and eventually lost.
Thousands of years later, all the species live in harmony, though Orcs are demeaned and are typically thugs and criminals. There’s also a prophecy about individuals called Brights, who can wield magic.
Daryl Ward (Will Smith) is a Los Angeles Police Officer who’s only five years away from retirement, which can’t seem to come any sooner. Life is especially difficult since he’s been partnered with the LAPD’s very first orc cop, Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton). Jakoby is rejected by everyone, both his fellow officers who don’t trust him and his fellow orcs who think he’s betrayed them. Now that Ward has an orc partner, that makes his job more dangerous.
Jakoby is eager to please and passionate about his job, but he’s also a bit naive. One day while Ward and Jakoby are out patrolling, they respond to a shooting that turns out to be the safe house of a fringe group of militants called Shield of Light who are preparing for the return of “The Dark Lord” and believe he can only be defeated by use of magic. At this safe house, they find a bloodbath inside and a scared young elf girl named Tikka who has a magical wand. The wand is so powerful that it will do whatever the wand bearer wishes, but only if the person holding the wand is a Bright. Otherwise, the magical wand will kill the person.
Jakoby and Ward stay with Tikka while backup arrives. When the other police officers tell Ward they’re going to steal the magical wand for themselves and kill Jakoby, Ward must make a decision which side he’s going to pick. He decides to defend Jakoby and the wand, and he kills the other police officers.
Word gets around that there’s a powerful magical wand. So, different gangs of humans and orcs, and the very deadly Shield of Light elf members, chase Jakoby, Ward and Tikka to get the wand before the heroes can put it into safe hands they can trust.
BRIGHT is a creative take on what it’d look like if the mythology around THE LORD OF THE RINGS was in our world today, from orcs in the LAPD, to Magic Divisions in the FBI. Will Smith is cast-typed with a role he’s seemingly played many times before. It’s Joel Edgerton as Jakoby that shines, however, as the humorous and empathetic orc. While the movie’s premise is interesting, though flawed, the execution of the story has a lot to be desired. There are so many layers and strange story elements to accept, like goofy looking elf FBI agents, it’s difficult to appreciate the action that’s taking place. As for Netflix’s first big-budgeted blockbuster style movie, there’s still much that the streaming service can learn.
BRIGHT is full of magical and occult elements, so it’s hard to say whether the mythology behind it is symbolic. While there are some spiritual connections that can be made, and some Christian symbols and elements, such as a cross and a resurrection scene, it’s more likely that the mythos of the world is a conglomerate of fantasy elements the screenwriter fancied for his own story instead of a deeper spiritual analogy. There are strong moral, redemptive worldview themes of courage, sacrifice, and doing the right thing, as well as some positive portrayals of police officers (though there are corrupt cops too).
Sadly, however, within all of the movie’s fantasy adventure, there’s a profuse amount of gratuitous foul language and extreme violence that makes BRIGHT an excessive movie. Thus, media-wise viewers ultimately will find BRIGHT to be unacceptable.