Warning: SPOILERS for Bright Below!
Netflix’s Bright is a unique creature in its own right: an urban fantasy cop action thriller set in Los Angeles where humans have co-existed with Orcs, Elves, Fairies and other mythical creatures for thousands of years. Written by Max Landis, Bright’s various races evolved together, share a history, and became uneasily integrated into what’s recognizably our human society, but with marked differences. Bright is as if Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter bled into director David Ayers’ own previous LA-based police drama End of Watch and the El Diablo scenes of Suicide Squad.
Bright stars Will Smith as LAPD Officer Daryl Ward, who is paired with the only Orc in the world serving in a police department, Officer Nick Jakoby, played by an unrecognizable Joel Edgerton. After a copious amount of world building establishing the socio-political environs of this fantasy LA where the Elves are the wealthiest of the races sequestered from the Orcs, who are ballers sharing South Central’s turf with human gangs, the main thrust of the story begins when Ward and Jakoby answer a routine 415 disturbance call and violently builds to an ending filled with a few surprises.
What the two cops find plunges them into non-stop danger and violence of both the conventional and the supernatural. Ward and Jakoby become embroiled in a larger supernatural war involving renegade Elves called the Inferni trying to resurrect an ancient evil from thousands of years ago called the Dark Lord. By the end, both cops become something much more than they were when Bright began.
WHAT IS A BRIGHT?
A Bright is the word for a magic user in this universe. Most Brights tend to be Elves, who are able to wield great magical power. However, there have been known to be human Brights as well, but they are rare – one in a million. The only way for a human to learn if he’s a Bright would be to touch a magic wand, a powerful weapon that will destroy any being who isn’t a Bright. A human who is able to touch a wand and not literally explode means he’s that one in a million human Bright. It’s understandable then why most humans don’t attempt to discover whether they possess a Bright’s power. The ones who do try generally don’t survive.
THE MAGIC WAND
The action in Bright revolves around the discovery of a MacGuffin: a magic wand, which Ward and Jakoby discover along with a couple of Inferni Elves on their routine disturbance call. One of the Elves is an assassin who has been magically dismembered by the other Elf, Tikka (Lucy Fry), who falls under the protection of Ward and Jakoby. When the two cops call for backup, four corrupt LAPD officers show up and immediately plot to steal the wand and kill Jakoby and Tikka. Rather than go along with them, Ward kills his fellow cops. Ward and Jakoby then go on the run with Tikka and the wand.
Lots of other people also want that magic wand; from human Altamira gang led by the wheelchair-bound Poison (Enrique Murciano), who wants to use the Wand’s power to help him walk again, to federal agents who work for the FBI’s Magic Division and hunt Brights, one of whom is an Elf named Kandomere (Edgar Ramirez). The real danger comes from the owner of the wand, an Inferni coven leader named Leilah (Noomi Rapace), whom we learn is Tikka’s sister and is personally trying to resurrect the Dark Lord. Leilah is hunting Tikka, who betrayed the Inferni. Leilah wants to recover her wand, which is one of three magic wands she needs to raise the Dark Lord back to the world.
MAKING SENSE OF BRIGHT’S ENDING
Bright‘s ending wraps up the arc of Jakoby, an “unblooded” exile from the Orcs who is also despised by his fellow LAPD officers. Ward, who was shot by an Orc in the past and is just returning to duty from his injuries at the start of the film, learns the true circumstances of why his partner Jakoby allowed that Orc to get away instead of apprehending him. Jakoby had lost the Orc who shot Ward while giving chase but came upon a different Orc who was graffiti tagging a wall. Jakoby knew from his superior sense of smell that this wasn’t the Orc who shot Ward, but he also knew the LAPD would not care or attempt to differentiate one Orc from another and they would kill this innocent Orc. Jakoby helped the young Orc escape and took the blame for failing his partner.
After surviving several attacks by Inferni Elves and Poison’s Altamira gang, each group trying to capture the magic wand, Ward, Jakoby and Tikka are captured by the Fogteeth Orcs gang and brought before their leader Dorghu (Brad William Henke). In order to get the wand, Dorghu tells his son Mikey to kill Jakoby, but Mikey refuses because he was the Orc Jakoby let escape in the alley the day Ward was shot. Dorghu kills Jakoby himself and throws him into a pit within their church headquarters, but Tikka reveals herself as a Bright. She uses the wand to save and resurrect Jakoby. Later, after their final battle with the Inferni, Jakoby enters a burning building to save Ward’s life. This is witnessed by the Fogteeth Orcs, who now believe Jakoby is part of a prophecy. They pay Jakoby the respect he’s always desired and declare him a blooded Orc at last.
Related: Screen Rant’s Review of Bright
As for Ward, he discovers his true nature when Tikka begins to die from her injuries and asks to be brought back to the house where the officers found her, which is a safehouse of the Shield of Light, a group fighting to stop the Dark Lord’s revival. In the house is a pool of magical water that can save Tikka’s life. However, Leilah and the Inferni are also there waiting, with Leilah praying to the Dark Lord. After they kill the Inferni and seemingly kill Leilah, Ward submerges Tikka in the pool before Leilah heals from her injuries and attacks them once more. In order to save Tikka, Ward decides to use the wand to destroy Leilah, knowing he’d die in the process. Instead, Ward discovers he is a Bright.
After Ward kills Leilah with the wand’s power, Tikka disappears and their ordeal against the Inferni is over – for now. The FBI takes samples of the magical water in the house. Later, Ward and Jakoby are in the hospital recuperating from their injuries when the FBI magic agents pay them a visit. Despite their conflicting stories, Ward and Jakoby blamed the deaths of the four crooked LAPD officers Ward killed on gangsters, concealed Ward’s true nature as a Bright, and denied the existence of the magic wand, the Inferni, or any magic whatsoever.
Ward and Jakoby are honored as heroes by the LAPD for taking down ‘armed terrorists obsessed with myths from thousands of years ago’. The information about the Dark Lord and the Inferni is withheld from the LAPD and the public at large. During the medal ceremony, Ward sees Tikka in the crowd, signaling that there’s still more to be done to prevent the coming of the Dark Lord. Luckily for fans, Netflix has already greenlit Bright 2, which will further the adventures of the world’s newest blooded Orc and of its newest Bright.
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