Day Watch (2006)

Rating: B

Dir: Timur Bekmambetov
Star: Konstantin Khabensky, Mariya Poroshina, Dima Martynov, Viktor Verzhbitsky

If you’ve seen the original, you’ll know what to expect: a convoluted, somewhat incoherent story-line, pepped up with great visuals. If you haven’t…well, expect a convoluted, somewhat incoherent story-line, pepped up with great visuals. But it doesn’t actually make too much difference: a quick prologue brings new viewers up to speed, and then it’s on with a Good vs. Evil in modern-day Russia. A subset of the dark forces are trying to provoke a breach of the uneasy truce that has lasted a millennium, by bringing the two “great others” (Poroshina and Martynov) together in battle. Except, one of them is the partner of Anton (Khabensky), a member of the Night Watch, who keep an eye on the evil-doers. And the other is Anton’s son. Oh, and did I mention the Chalk of Fate, a relic capable of rewriting history, buried with Tamerlane hundreds of years ago?

As you can imagine, there’s a lot going on, and it’s probably too much to handle, with Bekmanbetov losing track of the threads, especially during the middle. But this is just luscious to watch, with an immense sense of visual style – even the subtitles enhance the atmosphere, for example, shaking when someone knocks on the door. Things like that keep your attention, and possibly distract you from questioning just how much of this all makes sense. It builds to an apocalyptic finale, which features the most lethal yo-yo in cinema history, though you could certainly argue that the very end, effectively, draws a line through all that’s gone before. A cheat and waste of our time? Possibly. But I’ll still be very interested to see what Bekmambetov comes up with for the final part of the trilogy.