Timur Bekmambetov manages to dazzle and confuse us once more with his sequel to the patchy Night Watch (Nochnoy Dozor). Like the original, all the fun is confined to the first third of the film. Why Bekmambetov can’t seem to construct an exciting climax is a mystery, cos there are flourishes of action movie brilliance amongst a plot equal parts dull and bewildering. Reeking of style (think MTV generation on speed) yet lacking in basic fundamental storytelling techniques, Day Watch is much less entertaining than the previous outing.
A slightly larger problem is that the film doesn’t actually further the ‘Watch narrative all that much. As I see it, it’s a series effectively set during peacetime, and the breaches of the truce are summarily (and admittedly sometimes amusingly) handled. Nothing too drastic ever really occurs, or at least when it does it’s handled in such an offhand manner that it leaves no impression whatsoever.
The ultra-unrealistic tack taken means that the whole thing looks rather surreal. Once again, the ‘interactive’ subtitles are arguably the best part of the film, and while TV’s ‘Heroes’ has dabbled with a similar style, the brilliant technique hasn’t really been taken advantage of outside these films.
The cast certainly seem to know what’s going on. Despite the ridiculousness of many of the scenes, they’re all deadly serious, even when yelling ‘No! She’s going into Second Level Gloom!’. Bad guy Zavulon (Viktor Verzhbitsky) continues to defy movie nemesis expectations – as a friend (and messageboard member) pointed out – no other bad guy can pull off wearing a pink shirt quite like him.
Once again, the action comes when you least expect it, thick and fast. But this somehow leaves the climax almost completely devoid of excitement, and that the last 30 minutes are so dull is a travesty. I still don’t know if the same storytelling flaws are apparent in the source novels, but Day Watch had me so disinterested that I probably won’t bother. Less happens than in the first film, yet this is a good half an hour longer, clocking in at a completely redundant 130 minutes.
That the forthcoming third act, Twilight Watch, will be in English is a shame. Then again, it’s going to have its work cut out to impress me anyway.Rating: