Movie Review: Bright

Someone online: “It’s Shadowrun meets Alien Nation”

Me: “I’m in.”

Cast and Crew Information

Director: David Ayer
Writer: Max Landis

Will Smith as Daryl Ward
Joel Edgerton as Nick Jakoby
Naomi Rapace as Leilah
Full Cast List


Set in a world where mystical 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.

High Points

  • The subtext isn’t subtle, but it works.
  • Elves finally portrayed as what they are: Arrogant, elitist jerks.
  • Ward and Jakoby’s interactions feel authentic.

Low Point

The human cops (save for Ward and Rodriguez) all seem to be cut from the same corrupt-cop archetype. They don’t have any depth other than they hate orcs and they’re willing to do anything to make a little extra cash. The scene with IA and a couple others later on come across as almost comically simple because of the lack of depth.

The Review

Bright is a mashup of a lot of existing concepts (cop movie, racial tensions, urban fantasy, odd couple pairing), but it works really well. Originality: 4/6

There’s a part of my brain that hears “Netflix Original” and wants to translate that into “Made for TV” which this is clearly not. The effects are in no way cheap and look excellent. The car crash scene looks a little “fake” but otherwise it’s good. Effects: 5/6

The story isn’t anything new and most of the beats are pretty predictable, including the ending (even if the trailer hadn’t spoiled it). But it’s a great start to what is clearly meant to be a larger franchise with a much bigger world. Story: 4/6

The acting, particularly from the two leads, is very good. Will Smith is back to doing what he does best, cracking wise and being cool (think Agent J all grown up). Edgerton turns in a solid performance as an orc who is an outcast to both his own people and his coworkers. Things fall off, however, with some of the supporting cast being one-note caricatures. Acting: 5/6.

The production quality is fantastic. First off, the make-up for the orcs is great. Practical effects that allow the actor to still talk and emote clearly. The world itself is also fully-realized. It’s just this side of dystopian with a clear social order and they take the time to show it off. In the opening credits, we’re treated to a wonderful display of graffiti art that delivers the backstory for the world without making it an info-dump. That same graffiti is scattered throughout the film and gives you some hints as to what is going on, if you’re paying attention. Production: 6/6

The emotional response is strong. You’re drawn in by Ward and Jakoby. They have different stories to tell, but are both relatable to the audience. There are some very funny lines, but never enough to cause the tension to completely break down. Emotional Response: 5/6

Overall, the film works both as a stand alone and as the first in a series (a sequel has already been announced). We’re given a taste of a rich world that still has a lot of unanswered questions hiding in it. Overall: 5/6

Total: 33 out of 42

8 replies on “Movie Review: Bright”

  1. Thanks for the review. I really enjoyed Bright, and don’t understand the critical savaging that took place. Sure, there was a fair bit that was structurally formulaic, but this particular juxtaposition of settings/genres definitely did the trick for me.

    • The critical lashing the film got is partly why I wrote the review. Seems like way too much hate heaped onto a decent film with a great premise and a good cast. It’s not perfect, but I am definitely looking forward to the next film(s).

  2. Nice concept, but the four letter words came so heavy we couldn’t make it through the first half hour.

    • It did seem a little unnecessarily “R” in the language department. Of course, I’ve never understood why people get bent out of shape about language when there’s copious blood and violence also going on.

    • Well $%*&, that’s really too @#*& bad about that. I have the opposite problem. They use so much #@%* salty talk these days the words have lost their power.

  3. Okay, I really enjoyed this, and I have decided that Max Landis, after enjoying Dirk Gently so much, is my favorite screenplay writer (for now.)

    They did a great job of “show don’t tell”, and I was also impressed with Jakoby (Orc Cop). They made it clear he wasn’t a smart character, but he didn’t act stupid.

    I also liked your traditional bad guys, the orcs, were the hero in this, while the traditional good guys, the elves, were the bad guys.

    I read a handful of the reviews on Wikipedia, and I don’t understand why it is rated so poorly. It had flaws, but less than your average genre television series. I can’t wait for the sequel, and I do wish it had been a series.

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