Bright

 

1.                  It's a buddy-cop movie.  Daryl Ward (Will Smith) is still having nightmares about the time he and his partner stopped to get a burrito, and an armed robber suddenly ran in front of him and shot him. It took him months to recover, and when he finally returned to the force, nobody wanted to partner with him.  Bad vibes, you know.  He has no desire to incur everybody's wrath by going back to partnering with the one guy on the squad who everyone feels is inferior.  But Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) is determined to overcome the prejudice against him.  Together, the two of them are an odd pairing.  There's a repartee, but they don't claim to be friends.

2.                  It's a sci-fi film.  Nick Jakoby is an Orc, a species with mottled face and protuberant teeth and a nose that looks like the end is sliced off.  In this alternative reality, it seems the Orcs took the wrong side against the humans years ago, and the humans still regard them as an inferior species, although they seem to have some superior characteristics: heightened strength, acute sense of smell, and an intuitive sense about people and situations.  Oh, and they have their own language, as well.

3.                  It shares characteristics with the “Star War” series.  There's a mysterious Dark Lord somewhere, whose minions have extraordinary powers, and are nearly invincible in a fight.  They want to take over the world, but they are greedy, violent, and filled with hate, so if they rule, it will have to be with brute force.  Oh, and the “Bright” refers to someone with a big dose of The Force.

4.                  It shares characteristics with the “Lord of the Rings”  and “Harry Potter” series.  There are elves with magic capability, but instead of a powerful ring that everybody wants, it's a wand.  In the right hands, with the proper incantation, it can work wonders.  But woe to the person who tries to grab it and use it but is unworthy of it. 

5.                  It contains surprising religious themes.  Would you believe a recussitation, a resurrection, and an ascension?  Not to mention healing waters.

6.                  It's a wry social commentary.  All these dynamics about species sticking together, and mistrusting other ethnicities, sounds all too painfully familiar.  And how about the push/pull of the public's perception regarding the police?  And, we have gangs.  And corrupt cops.  What's rare and difficult is cross-cultural co-operation.

7.                  It's an action/adventure movie in a gritty urban setting that features lots of car crashes, shoot-em-ups, beat-em-ups, and even the obligatory seedy topless bar.  By the end, there are lots of corpses littering the landscape, and even our heroes are a bloody mess.  It seems to love violence.

8.                  It's funny.  Surprisingly so.  Humor is also an attempt to bridge the credibility gap, like when Daryl tries to swat a pesky fairy with a broom.

 

Yeah, there are lots of disparate elements to hold together here, but at the very least, Director David Ayers delivers an action-packed drama that is truly a unicorn:  one of a kind.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association