The film opens in Los Angeles, where humans co-exist with orcs, elves, and fairies. Officer Daryl Ward (Will Smith) is out on the streets with his partner, Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), who is the world's first orc cop. Jakoby is grabbing a burrito when an orc gangster emerges from a shop and blasts Ward with a shotgun.
A while later, Ward is ready to go back to the force. He is struggling to keep his house that he shares with his wife Sherri (Dawn Olivieri) and daughter Sophia (Scarlet Spencer). Sophia hates that her dad is a cop because she worries he'll get killed. They see a video from Joe Rogan interviewing an orc as they discuss Jakoby being on the force. The other orcs hate Jakoby as they consider him a traitor. Ward dislikes having him as a partner because he blames Jakoby for him getting shot. Sherri then makes him go outside to deal with a fairy that's attacking the bird feeder. Ward takes a broom and whacks the fairy to death.
Ward and Jakoby ride together, with Ward openly blaming Jakoby for the shooting incident. After driving through the wealthy Elftown neighborhood, they arrive at work, where a few rotten cops - Pollard (Ike Barinholtz), Hicks (Matt Gerald), and Brown (Joseph Piccuirro) - mock Jakoby when he's not around. When Ward is assigned to be on patrol with Jakoby for the day, he protests to Sergeant Ching (Margaret Cho), but she doesn't care for his complaints.
Ward and Jakoby head downtown to handle a disturbance, meeting with Sheriff Rodriguez (Jay Hernandez). A crazy man named Serling (Chris Browning) is waving a sword around and yelling nonsense. With the officers drawing their weapons, Serling surrenders and is taken into custody. On the ride back to the precinct, Serling pukes in the back of the car before starting to speak Orkish to Jakoby, saying he has a message from an organization called the Shield of Light, telling him to "remember the old ways", and how a prophecy has chosen him, and that Ward is blessed.
Ward is later approached by Captain Perez (Andrea Navedo), along with two men - Yamahara (Kenneth Choi) and Arkashian (Bobby Naderi) - who order Ward to record Jakoby admitting that he let Ward's shooter get away.
Serling is interrogated by an elf FBI agent, Kandomere (Edgar Ramirez), and his partner Montehugh (Happy Anderson). The agents ask Serling what he knows about two elf sisters - Leilah (Noomi Rapace) and Tikka (Lucy Fry). Serling knows that Leilah is a dark elf, part of the Inferni clan that wants to resurrect the Dark Lord, an evil entity that was defeated 2000 years earlier by the Nine Armies. Leilah and her minions want to bring him back to unleash darkness upon the world with the use of three magic wands. Leilah is a "Bright", meaning she can wield a wand without it destroying her. Montehugh says they need to find Tikka in order to set a trap for Leilah.
On the night patrol, Ward tries to get Jakoby to confess to the incident, when they are alerted to something going on at a house on Abrams Street. They arrive and are shot at by an unseen assailant. After a shootout, the officers kill the assailant. They head inside the house and find dead bodies, including a few that look like they were burnt alive. The officers find Tikka, who is in possession of the wand.
Ward calls in Ching and the other cops in regards to the wand. They want the wand for themselves, and they order Ward to go along with it and kill Jakoby, or he dies as well. Ward goes outside to do the job, but first he presses Jakoby at gunpoint on what really happened when he got shot. Jakoby admits he did let the shooter get away, but it was because he lost him in a crowd. He thought he cornered the guy in an alley, but it was just a young orc spray-painting the side of a building. Knowing that the human officers would kill the kid on the spot, Jakoby let him get away on a fire escape. Moments later, Ching and the officers step outside. Ward spins around quickly and shoots them all dead, but Pollard is the only one hanging on for his life. Jakoby attempts to arrest Ward until they are approached by a gang led by wheelchair-bound Poison (Enrique Murciano), who knows about the wand and wants it for himself so that he can walk again. Ward and Jakoby take Tikka and head into their van as the gangsters start attacking.
The officers drive away as the gangsters pursue them. The gangsters shoot at them, but Ward and Jakoby are able to shake most of them off. They find a place to hide briefly until more gangsters come after them. One of them finds the wand and tries to grab it, but it causes him to explode and kill those around him.
Leilah and her minions arrive at the Abrams house and find Pollard dying before Leilah finishes the job. She then finds another Inferni elf, Larika (Nadia Grey), who is stuck to the walls. She tells Leilah that Tikka got away with the wand, and she slashes Larika's throat. The elves then come across a family that they kill for more information on the wand's whereabouts. Kandomere and Montehugh later come upon the crime scene at the Abrams house, and Kandomere knows Leilah has lost the wand, making her vulnerable.
Ward, Jakoby, and Tikka walk through a sleazy orc/human strip club. Poison and his gang find them and once again threaten them for the wand, but Leilah and her minions show up and slaughter Poison and his gang. Another shootout happens, forcing the trio to run again. They run into a nearby convenience store where they find a place to hide. While tending to their wounds in a bathroom, Ward and Jakoby discuss their relationship. Although Ward doesn't think of them as friends, he does tell Jakoby that he shouldn't want to be like him, despite Jakoby previously stating he wishes he were because he sees Ward as fearless.
Rodriguez shows up to the store after hearing about Ward killing the officers. He orders Ward to cuff Jakoby since everyone suspects him anyway, and Jakoby willingly relents. Rodriguez is then shot dead as the elves drive up and crash through the store, shooting at the cops. The trio fight back, shooting at the elves before getting away.
The trio are then found by a group of orc gangsters belonging to the Fogteeth clan. After Ward mocks them, they get beaten and dragged to a church that serves as their lair. The orcs bring them to their leader, Dorghu (Brad William Henke). He wants the wand as well, and he mocks Jakoby for being unblooded (accepted by the other orcs as one of their own). After the cops refuse to give up the wand, Dorghu orders them to be executed. The guards drag Ward and Jakoby to a pit, and Dorghu orders his son Mikey (Brandon Larracuente) to execute Jakoby. However, Mikey can't bring himself to do so, because he is the young orc that Jakoby let get away. Dorghu allows Mikey to go home, and Dorghu shoots Jakoby, letting his body fall into the pit. Tikka then pulls out the wand and uses it to resurrect Jakoby and raise his body up. The other orcs are astonished and kneel before Jakoby, believing him to be the one the prophecy spoke of. The three then leave.
Tikka then speaks English for the first time, now that she knows she can trust Ward and Jakoby. She explains that she took the wand because she knew Leilah wanted to bring back the Dark Lord, and she had sent Larika to kill her, but Tikka took the wand herself. The use of the wand took a toll on her, and it's starting to kill her. She tells them that the Shield of Light can help them if they take her to a pool back at the Abrams house.
Ward and Jakoby bring Leilah back to the house. Leilah and the other dark elves show up and battle the cops. Ward and Jakoby manage to kill the elves, and Jakoby appears to shoot Leilah dead. They then take Tikka to the pool beneath a tree, but Leilah emerges, still alive. When she tries to get the wand, Ward grabs it himself. It starts to glow, and he doesn't explode, meaning he is a Bright. Tikka tells him a war word to cast a spell, which Ward repeats, causing the wand to blast Leilah to smithereens. Outside, authorities arrive just as they witness the explosion. Ward and Jakoby look for Tikka, but she's gone.
The officers are in the hospital and are approached by Kandomere and Montehugh. Although Jakoby tries to explain everything that happened, Ward denies that there was ever a wand, and that gangsters killed the corrupt officers.
Ward and Jakoby are commemorated for their heroism. Pollard, Brown, Hicks, and Ching are also honored alongside Rodriguez, with Ward expressing his hatred for that fact. Jakoby tells him to let it go, since at least they know the truth. Sherri and Sophia are there to support Ward, while he and Jakoby notice Tikka walking among the crowd, smiling at them.
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
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The film is set in a timeline where humans live among creatures such as orcs, elves, and fairies. Nick Jakoby is the first orc cop, and it has made him unpopular among both humans and his fellow orcs. His partner, Daryl Ward, resents him after an incident where Ward was shot by an orc thug, and Jakoby failed to catch the shooter.
Ward and Jakoby find an elf girl named Tikka, who stole a magic wand from her sister, the dark elf Leilah. Leilah wants the wand to resurrect the Dark Lord, while others around the city want it for their own gain. Ward is forced to kill four corrupt cops when they want the wand for themselves and threaten to kill him and Jakoby to get it. They also face off gangsters, both human and orc.
Ward and Jakoby battle the dark elves, and Ward is able to wield the wand, as he is a Bright (people capable of magic), and he uses it to destroy Leilah.
The officers must cover up what happened, and they are commemorated for their heroism, alongside all the fallen officers.
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