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.
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-