Review: Day Watch

Posted by Peter Hall - March 18th 2006 @ 2:18 pm

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov, 2005

In Soviet Russia, movie hates you!

In the interest of full disclosure, one should know my history with this film’s predecessor. When I first saw Night Watch over a year and a half ago, I thought it was one of the most insane fantasy films I’d ever seen. I watched it one morning by myself and I will admit that I was really, really into it. I ordered the DVD from a Russian site and made Mark watch it a few days later. I still feel bad for subjecting him to it. During that second viewing I found absolutely nothing of much interest in the thing. It is a muddled, confusing, convoluted storyline that establishes a seemingly complex mythos, but never, ever explains any of it – thus making it not that complex at all.

Day Watch is no different. And, for the record, it nor its predecessor is a horror film. But, since it gets that billing (simply because it involves vampires) I might as well write about it solely so I can tell you why to never associate yourself with this movie.

I’d like to tell you what the loveable gang from Night Watch is up to in Day Watch, but I don’t have a single clue. I know they’re looking for a piece of chalk (yes, chalk). I know some random person got killed and the lead, Anton, somehow got framed for it. Past that, you could probably make up a plot on your own and it’d be more logical than what is on display here.

This movie makes about as much sense as ducking under a desk and covering your head to survive a nuclear blast. It just seems to make stuff up as it goes along and never falters in denying any sort of an explaination as to what in the fuck is going on. It jumps from scene to scene without any substantial continuity as to how any of it fits into the plot. It is a grab bag of whatever the hell they thought would look cool on screen. Nothing makes sense, end of story.

The only positive thing that I can say about Day Watch is in regards to its balls out, apeshit visuals – which are the only factor that upgrades Day Watch from worthless to just bad. The effects here aren’t revolutionary by any means, but they are slick enough to warrant minimal interest. The writer(s) obviously have an imagination and it shows. Crows drop out of the sky and morph into ninja-mongols. Cars are driven around the sides of buildings. Vehicles are knocked off the road by flash light beams. Buses materialize out of thin air and crash into people. Nether worlds are interwoven with the “real” world. It all looks good, especially considering its modest budgets and Russian roots (an industry not known for its effects), I only wish I could tell you why in the hell crows morph into ninjas, cars drive along windows or what the hell this “chalk of destiny” (which is literaly a piece of chalk) is so important that it is the pursuit of the entire movie.

And the movie is long. Long, long, long. I was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt, thanks to the sheer variety of scenes and subplots I had already seen, that the movie was about to be over and then I checked the running time and saw that over an hour remained. At 149 minutes, watching this thing straight through with undivided attention is an endurance test I am not passing. In fact, as you read this I’m still watching the movie and have over 45 minutes left to go.

I can’t take this much longer. Is it really that hard to explain something once in a while? Just put in a line of dialogue here and there that actually introduces a person or a context. Save for the main guy, Anton, and some chic named Olga, I couldn’t tell you the name of a single other character (or their purpose in the story) and I’ve seen probably close to 20.

I don’t feel bad about writing a review of a movie before I’ve seen the last reel of it because nothing is going to save this flick. Unless the last 35 minutes turns into a slideshow presentation from the screenwriter himself explaining everything, this movie will continue to its descent into utter absurdity. The Gingerdead Man made more sense than this piece of crap.

Now that it is over, want to know the genius of the ending? Russia gets destroyed by a rubber, bouncing ball. Well, that isn’t the end of the movie, but it is the climax. A ball that divides again and again and just starts bouncing all over the city, putting holes in everying in its path.

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