When it was announced that director David Ayer would reunite with his Suicide Squad star Will Smith for Bright, it was easy to understand why some weren't exactly optimistic about the fantasy crime film. After all, while Suicide Squad was a commercial success, it wasn't exactly a critical darling, becoming another blemish on Warner Bros.' fledgling DC Extended Universe. However, as easy as it is to dub Suicide Squad a mess, Ayer has demonstrated his talent with such films as End of Watch and Fury, providing a glimmer of hope for Bright.
Although most critics disliked the Netflix film -- its Rotten Tomatoes rating is 31 percent -- audiences seem far more receptive to the big-budget feature. That's because Bright isn't actually as bad as you might have been led to believe.
Written by Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra), the film is set in an alternate-present Los Angeles, where humans live alongside elves, orcs and other fantasy creatures after centuries of war. Smith stars as veteran LAPD officer Daryl Ward, who's partnered with the first orc cop Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), who's shunned by orcs and humans alike. Amid a backdrop of racial tensions, the two uneasy partners head out on a routine patrol that could end up altering the future of their world.
It's a genre mashup that doesn't work on every level, but there's still a lot to like about Bright.
1. Joel Edgerton and Will Smith
The relationship between Will Smith's Ward and Joel Edgerton's Jakoby is, hands down, the best part of the film. While the two essentially begin as enemies struggling to work together, a terrifying event drives an even bigger wedge between the duo, forcing them to accept their differences. Even when the dialogue is weak, Edgerton and Smith deliver a believable relationship. Bright loses focus over the course of the third act, but the film manages to perfectly capture the growth of the two cops and their developing friendship.
2. The Overall Concept
Even when Bright falls victim to attempting to accomplish too much at once, it still succeeds in trying to be something more -- something unique. It's a modern fantasy filled with orcs, fairies and elves, and yet, the theme throughout is the racial divide between the characters. Yes, the politics surrounding it all can be fuzzy, but the fact that the film tries to be more than a simple action-fantasy is impressive.
That's why it's exciting that Netflix has already ordered a sequel. Landis and Ayer end the film on such a hopeful note that it's difficult not to imagine what they could do with future installments. After all, they've only scratched the surface of this world, and what it is to be a Bright.