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The Underrated Will Smith Fantasy Thriller You Can Watch On Netflix

Will Smith is best known for his Oscar-nominated lead roles in big screen films such as Ali and The Pursuit of Happiness, as well as his recurring stint as Agent J in the mega-hit Men in Black franchise, which is available to watch online if you know where to track the films down. Then there's Bright. 

A collaboration with Smith's Suicide Squad director David Ayer, the Max Landis-penned fantasy action thriller was released in 2017 and went straight to Netflix at a time when that just didn't happen for big-budget features. In an interview with Collider, Smith and Ayer talked about the "freedom" they had working for the streaming platform, and acknowledged that Bright was a film that other studios would have given a hard pass.

Bright follows two LAPD police officers — a human named Daryl Ward (Smith) and an Orc named Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) — as they try to work around their obvious differences, while getting thrown into a conspiracy mystery involving an elf (Lucy Fry) and bad guys who want her magic wand. The film, set in an alternate universe, certainly isn't your typical buddy cop movie, and its big budget, A-list star power, and immediate slot on Netflix had entertainment insiders buzzing throughout its extended production. It was also a big risk for Smith in an era when big names didn't star in Netflix Originals, which is one of the reasons you should give it a shot.

Smith was excited to be a pioneer in big-budget Netflix Originals

At a Comic-Con panel ahead of Bright's release, Smith expressed excitement at being at "the forefront of a new way to consume entertainment" with a direct-to-Netflix flick, according to Deadline. In another first, Smith said the racial themes in the film had him on a side he had never experienced before. The former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star explained that a movie about LAPD Orcs battling with evil elves landed him in unfamiliar territory when it comes to racism.

"Joel plays the first Orc on the LAPD," the actor said. "It felt really great to be an African American police officer; they found somebody else to be racist against. I've never been on that side of racism when you're black: 'Listen, man, I don't want no Orcs in my car!'" While he joked about Orcs being the minority in the fantasy universe, the movie shows species from all walks of life working together regardless of race or social class. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Smith said he loved how "bizarre" Bright was with its colorful characters.

"I've been saying it's Training Day — a gritty LA cop drama, the darkness and handheld grittiness — meets Lord of the Rings. There's orcs and fairies and elves, mean-a** elves," Smith said. He went on to describe a scene with several police officers beating up an Orc. "My character asks [Edgerton's] the question, 'Are you a cop first or an Orc first? You need to decide."

Fans of Bright will be happy to know a sequel is supposedly coming. Bright 2 was announced in 2018, according to Vanity Fair, although production on the film is still pending with no release date in sight. Still, there's not time like the present to catch up with this unique buddy cop actioner. If nothing else, it's a veritable piece of streaming history.