Day Watch begins inauspiciously, with a recap of its predecessor Night Watch‘s mythology about Light and Dark beings (who share a tenuous truce), Great Ones, and other gobbledygook that’s no less ludicrous for being presented in condensed form. Nonetheless, such an intro functions as a proper setup for part two of Russian director Timur Bekmambetov’s planned trilogy about a clandestine conflict between extraordinary beings (based on Sergei Lukyanenko’s novels), which only works in three modes: incomprehensible, preposterous, and incomprehensibly, preposterously lame. Having driven his son to the Dark side by unsuccessfully attempting to have the kid magically aborted, mopey protagonist Anton now finds himself stuck in the middle of a tug-of-war—literally, by the end of this decidedly unimaginative film— between his vengeful Great One offspring Yegor (Dima Martynov) and his sweet Great One trainee/girlfriend Sveta (Maria Poroshina). Set in a dank, seedy modern Moscow, the power plays of the story’s good and bad factions are likely intended to reflect the country’s competing post-Soviet oligarchies, yet trying to discern meaning amid this garbage heap of spare Matrix parts—secret realities hidden behind our everyday one, bullet-time effects, supermen who wear their sunglasses at night—is as futile as searching for a character with a single coherent personality trait. Periodically hopping back and forth between an alternate dimension full of mosquitoes known as The Gloom, heroes and villains engage in various mini-dramas that are barely established by Bekmambetov’s script, a situation that reduces the surprisingly scant fight scenes to a lot of inconsequential hubbub. Aside from one stunning image of a sports car skidding along the face of a curved high-rise hotel, Night Watch fails to even equal its forebear’s handful of flashy CG moments, instead falling back on asinine plot machinations concerning shape-shifting parrot-men, a tinfoil yo-yo filled with hate, Freaky Friday-style body-swapping, and the Chalk of Fate, an enchanted writing instrument that allows people to redraft their lives. Considering that his snazzy horror-fantasy films have successfully paved his path to Hollywood, it’s a tool unneeded by Bekmambetov, though I can think of at least one audience member who, midway through this two-hour-plus supernatural slog, would have killed for such a time-rewinding implement.
- Fox Searchlight Pictures
- 140 min
- Timur Bekmambetov
- Timur Bekmambetov
- Konstantin Khabensky, Maria Poroshina, Vladimir Menshov, Galina Tyunina, Victor Verzhbitskiy, Zhanna Friske, Dima Martynov, Valeriy Zolotukhin, Aleksey Chadov, Nurzhuman Ikhtymbaev
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