FILMMAKER David Ayer tackled fantasy with his last comic book movie, Suicide Squad.

While his gritty, earlier work like Harsh Times and End of Watch explored gangs, police work and simmering racial tensions just below the surface in American suburbia.

In Ayer’s new film, Bright, exclusively for Netflix, the director has got to mix the two.

The story imagines a modern Los Angeles where fantasy creatures like orcs and elves co-exist with humans and are integrated into society. Orcs look brutish and are viewed with suspicion while the haughty elves are rich, fashionable and elitist.

Bright sees Will Smith play Ward, a cop whose partner is Joel Edgerton’s Jakoby, the first orc on the force.

Ward has to get past his prejudices when the pair uncover a plot and take possession of a magical weapon that everyone is prepared to kill for from the gangs to mystical warriors.

Think Lord of the Rings meets Ayer’s End of Watch. Bright has been written by Max Landis, who is known for his outlandish and inventive ideas which we have seen in the likes of American Ultra.

This genre melding movie is typical of his work and is an obvious metaphor for the United States’ arguably broken ‘American Dream’ where civil unrest is common and Trump persists with his plans to ban Muslims from the country.

To have Tolkien-esque creatures representing an exaggerated version of that melting pot gives a fascinating backdrop.

It would have been nice to see the film linger longer in that unique setting because when the plot starts rolling Bright resorts to typical action movie formula – chase sequences, battles, rinse and repeat.

Will Smith resorts to type (how many times must he have played a police officer now?) but it is good to see him back in a charismatic lead role.

Joel Edgerton is unrecognisable as the mild mannered Jakoby, the moral compass of the story.

But The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s Noomi Rapace is wasted in an undeveloped villain role as dark elf Leilah.

RATING: 7/10

  • Bright is released exclusively on Netflix on Friday