Day Watch Movie Review

We feel the pull of the metaphorical light and dark everyday: Should I lie? Steal? Cheat? Have that second bowl of ice cream? Or should I do the "right" thing? Taking this push-pull of desires and ideals and applying it to the supernatural is the crux of Day Watch, the second film in the Night Watch series. Unfortunately, like its predecessor, Day Watch gets caught up in its flashy, over-the-top visual effects and misses the thematic mark. But that's what you'd expect from any other big budget "blockbuster."

As follow-up to the first major release of a Russian film after the collapse of the Soviet film industry (Night Watch had a budget of $4.2 million), Day Watch does an admirable job of keeping the pace brisk and the action constant, despite the fact that the film is built upon flimsy plot devices. The film follows Night Watch protagonist Anton as he attempts to reconnect with his son Yegor, who defected to the dark side, while pursuing a relationship with a new trainee in the Night Watch -- a group that polices the dark supernatural beings (the dark police keeping tabs on the light side is the Day Watch).

The film makes no attempts to veil its subtext, Yegor is the Great Dark One and Anton's love interest is the Great Light One; both of them literally pulling for his attention from either side. And the MacGuffin driving the action? The Chalk of Fate -- a magical piece of chalk that can change events depending on what the holder writes. Best not even to mention the 30 minutes Anton spends as a woman and bunks with his infatuated trainee, in a cheap, manipulative way to drive the love story forward as quickly as possible.

In an ironic twist, the saving grace of Day Watch is also what takes away from the film's story -- the visual effects. It's not that the effects are particularly good, but director Timur Bekmambetov has a visual style that's one part Jean-Pierre Jeunet (City of Lost Children, Amelie) and one part Wachowski brothers (The Matrix, Speed Racer). For the most part, it works for him: Day Watch's action keeps the film plowing through the nagging plot questions of "Who's that again?" and "What's happening?" Perhaps the most distinct and interesting use of effects is the visual punctuations within the subtitles: "Bitch!" splatters in red against a white wall as a hurled chunk of raw meat slides down it; words said in anger violently shake and shatter, while utterances of despair dissolve into vapor. The visual subtitle twist works well for the action-driven film where eye candy is more important than genuine emotion, and it may even curb cries of boredom from lazy moviegoers who don't want to "read" their movies.

Although Day Watch is the Russian equivalent of a Hollywood money-grabber, it's surprisingly fun and at least gives the illusion of depth with Anton's pining over his dark son. Entering a genre that's overstuffed with bombastic computer-generated effects, Day Watch's supernatural police and Bekmambetov's rich visual palette give the film enough strength at least to throw a couple elbows to set itself apart from other nameless films with plenty of effects, but little vision.

Aka Dnevnoy dozor.

Yep, it's Memorex.

Cast & Crew

Producer : Konstantin Ernst, Anatoli Maksimov

Starring : , Mariya Poroshin, , Galina Tyunina, Dmitry Martynov, , Zhanna Friske


Comments

Day Watch Rating

" OK "

Rating: NR, 2006

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