Friday, 29 December 2017

BRIGHT : Wednesday 27th December 2017.

'BRIGHT', released worldwide by Netflix on 22nd December, is available to subscribers of this service, and was Produced by the company as an original film at a cost of US$90M, and represents the most expensive movie undertaking ever put out by the company. So I sat and watched 'Bright' from the comfort of my own sofa at home. Described as a fantasy action crime film it is Directed by David Ayer (whose previous credits include 'Street Kings', 'End of Watch', 'Fury' and 'Suicide Squad' amongst others) and Written by Max Landis, this film mashes up several genres in an alternate modern day world where Orcs, Elves, Fairies and various other worldly mythical creatures co-exist with humans in what is best described as an uneasy love/hate alliance.

Thousands of years ago Humans, Orcs and Elves all fought to rule over each other, and in the present day there is peace between them - but only just. In Los Angeles, a veteran Police Officer Daryl Ward (Will Smith) has five years to go before retirement and is trying to maintain his clean slate so that he can retire on a much needed Police pension. He is partnered up, much against his will and to the disdain of his fellow Officers and fellow Orcs, with the city's first Orc Police Officer Nick Jakoby (an unrecognisable Joel Edgerton). On a routine trip out in their patrol car, Ward forces Jakoby to watch another Orc being beaten to the ground by fellow Police Officers, in an attempt to ascertain and reinforce exactly where Jakoby's loyalties need to lie. They are then called to a public disturbance in the street with a sword wielding man, who they are able to disarm easily enough and place him under arrest in the back of the patrol car. The man starts talking Orcish which Ward cannot understand, but Jakoby does. He tells them of a prophecy they will both become involved in and how Ward is blessed, but when pressed by his partner about what he said, Jakoby just replies that the man was talking nonsense.

Later the man arrested by Ward and Jakoby is interrogated by a senior Elf working for the FBI's Magic Division - Kandomere (Edgar Ramirez) who learns that he is part of a fringe militant group known as The Shield of Light that is preparing for the return of The Dark Lord, that will see billions wiped off the face of the Earth, and the survivors thrown into slavery.

That night, Ward and Jakoby respond to a call about a disturbance in what turns out to be a Shield safe house. Investigating they come across a number of freshly incinerated corpses, enough guns, bombs and ammunition to arm a small army, and the body of an Elf woman half embedded in a wall and bleeding badly.

The pair apprehend a young Elf named Tikka (Lucy Fry) who possesses a wand with fantastical magical powers. When back-up arrives in the form of four other Police Officers they take it upon themselves to steal the wand for their own gain, but to cover their tracks they need to kill either Jakoby or them both and make it look as though one or both died heroically in the line of duty - it is up to Ward to decide the outcome! Ward ventures outside to where Jakoby is waiting having agreed under extreme duress to murder his Orc partner, but then in a moment of clarity turns his gun on the four Officers who have now assembled in the doorway and are looking on. He kills three of them outright and badly injures the fourth. Jakoby is outraged by what he has seen not knowing of the conversation that had previously taken place, but Ward is able to convince him that his intentions were genuine.

All this commotion attracts the attention of a local gang who come out in force demanding the wand be handed over to them, as it was found in their neighbourhood and they control the hood. Ward, Jakoby, Tikka with the wand flee the scene in their patrol car and are given chase by gun totting hoodlums armed to the hilt intent of getting hold of said magical wand. Meanwhile, back at the Shield safe house, the owner of the wand and Dark Elf Leilah (Noomi Rapace) has arrived back to discover that the wand and Tikka are both missing. Leilah slits the throat of the Elf embedded in the wall who was tasked with killing Tikka with the wand - failed on both counts!

The trio flee on foot after their car is crushed by an invisible force that prevents the wand from travelling a certain distance from its owner. They exchange their Police uniforms for plain clothes and enter a strip joint, but are still pursued by the same hoodlums they tried to shake off earlier. Seriously out numbered and outgunned Ward and Jakoby decide to go out all guns blazing, but before doing so Leilah arrives with her two henchelves and slaughter everyone in the place, allowing the three to escape again on foot.

This time the three take refuge in a petrol station to clean up their wounds and take stock of their unfolding situation. Ward establishes contact with a friend from the Sheriffs Office - Sheriff Rodriguez (Jay Hernandez) believing that he can be trusted. The Sheriff contacts Kandomere, and Ward speaks with him asking for him and Jakoby to be free from prosecution if they can keep the wand out of the wrong hands. Little to do they know that their phone conversation is being monitored by Leilah, who is tracking their whereabouts, and within a few short minutes arrives at the petrol station to cause carnage in their attempt to kill Tikka and retrieve the wand. The petrol station explodes in a ball of flame causing enough of a distraction for the three to escape again on foot.

The three are in turn captured by an Orc Clan, beaten to within an inch of their lives and dragged in front of their leader, demanding the whereabouts of the wand. When no satisfactory answer is forthcoming, the leader shoots Jakoby, killing him and sending his falling into a deep pit. Following a further struggle, Tikka shows that she is a 'Bright' (the name given to a special individual able to wield a magical wand safely) and removes the wand from inside her sleeve and uses its magical powers to resurrect Jakoby. Witnessing this great revelation the Orc Clan let the three go free, but Tikka is badly injured from her ordeal and is rapidly loosing strength and the will to live.

They only way to save Tikka is to venture back to the safe house and place her in a magic pool of water. Leilah has however, anticipated this and is waiting for them there with her two henchelves. There are sufficient small arms, large calibre rifles and artillery to dispense with the bad guys despite their strength, agility and fortitude. Ward and Jakoby are able to overpower the three and kill them, but not realising that Leilah has the power to self heal, she quickly counterattacks the two Officers and incapacitates them. Struggling to stand up, Ward grips the wand which he believes will disintegrate them all if handled with his bare hands, but he is prepared to sacrifice them all if it means an end to Leilah and the pending arrival of The Dark Lord. Just as it is revealed that Leilah is Tikka's sister whom she now wants dead for her treachery, Ward holds up the wand safely revealing that he too is a 'Bright'. In doing so he points the wand at Leilah who disintegrates, and Tikka disappears as the building catches fire and is quickly engulfed in flame. Jakoby makes it out safely, but then ventures back into the burning building to retrieve his partner.

The next day, the pair come round in an isolated medical ward. Kandomere arrives and Jakoby immediately blurts out the circumstances that brought them to this point much to Ward's chagrin. Ward eventually gets a word in edgeways stating that there was no magical involvement or Police corruption at play, as Kandomere is keen to keep a lid on the whole incident. The pair are then awarded a commendation for their bravery and action by the city, and as Ward looks up, he sees Tikka in the crowd of onlookers passing by.

I have to say all credit goes to Max Landis for coming up with an original storyline that melds the buddy cop crime drama with the worlds of Tolkien and dumps them into an alternate modern day world where crime, discrimination, intolerance and prejudice are rife. And credit goes also to Joel Edgerton for his unrecognisable prosthetic performance as rogue Orc turned good with a conscience to uphold the law no matter what - he is the cornerstone of this film. As for the rest of it, that's where the credit dries up! Rarely are Ward and Jakoby seen without their arms raised, weapons pointed and their pistols cocked, or one effing and blinding at the other or some perpetrator, or involved in another foot chase across LA culminating in a bullet ballet, close quarter kicking and punching acrobatics or shit getting blown up. The pace is often frenetic, the storyline at times incoherent and despite its impressive line up of four A-Listers - Smith, Edgerton, Rapace and Ramirez, this is just a jumbled up mess that struggles to make sense and is all substance over style. Watch this on the small screen from the comfort of your armchair at home and save yourself the price of ticket, assuming you can find an Odeon screening it.
-Steve, at Odeon Online- 

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