Saturday, September 13, 2008

NIGHT WATCH (Timur Bekmambetov, 2004, Russia) Not just another slick vampire flick, NIGHT WATCH bleeds with viscerally engorging action and hemorrhages human pathos. The basic story concerns the battle between light and dark; equally matched, this war shall lead to the destruction of both. A truce is formed and each forms a Police Force until the coming of the Chosen One…who will ultimately decide the war. Enough exposition. NIGHT WATCH is confusing and puzzling, a visual conundrum but an outright enjoyable genre blend of science fiction, mythology, and horror. The story evolves around Anton and the fateful decision he made twelve years earlier out of anger, frustration, jealousy, and revenge…without knowing his true power. The film’s structure is fairly straightforward (thought it utilizes a few flashbacks/forwards) and doesn’t waste time with “talky” explanations; information must be gleaned from quick dialogue and visual queues…or not at all. Just go along for the ride. The generic special effects are the film’s weakness; they’re technically effective but none too original. What carries the plot is the theme of redemption, of carrying the burden of guilt, and mistakes that haunt our past can still change the future. Anton’s characterization is the key to connecting with the drama because he’s conflicted, capable of killing, and filled with remorse over his murderous acts…no matter how justified. The dark atmosphere is physical as well as metaphorical and this births nihilistic dread, a vortex of spiritual annihilation in the audience and sets the tone for the entire trilogy. Director Timur Bekmambetov lets his camera linger with the characters, moving freely and intimately towards medium close-ups, the editing subtle and barely discernable; it’s when the visual gimmicks begin that it becomes uninteresting. Anton must make two fatal decisions in the final act but it’s his humanity that saves his soul…but could destroy the world. (B-)

No comments: