4.3 out of 5 stars
“Day Watch” is a playful, surrealistic antidote to standard genre entertainment. It manages to be something more than the usual action, drama, and suspense. An audio-visual caffeine as it is, it has an unbridled cinematic creativity that makes itself a unique kind of movie experience.
The film presents very real images carefully managed with the right dose of twists and out-of-the-box visions. The style and treatment add emotional resonance to the epic energy of its intricate plot and its sharp, eerie, and visceral mood. It retains the gorgeous and visually arresting style of its predecessor “Night Watch,” combined with that Russian streak of dark angst and an interestingly hip, new generation look.
“Day Watch” dives into the second chapter of the ambitious, visually dazzling Russian fantasy trilogy. It continues its tradition with a weird sense of humor and unconventionally presented special effects shot in such a bold, crazy way. It features an admirably pure audacity effortlessly blending brilliant imagery with heart-pounding action sequences. Mixing history, sword and sorcery, and science-fiction, the film is bathed with opulent darkness and dread and a particularly Russian sensibility.
The film’s CG elements are incorporated into the real-life setting with such a surreal context. These elements turn out quite organic that clearly keeps the distinction between the pretentious, the artificial, and the profound. Add up its character-driven philosophy presented in a highly stylized way and you are definitely in for a great combination of wall-to-wall action, oddly sweet-tempered mix of hyperbole, vexed characters, and profound issues about guilt, freedom, and responsibility.
At 132 minutes, the edge of “Day Watch” is its reinvention of what Hollywood conventions tend to offer in the blockbuster market. Even though “Day Watch” is probably a good 20 minutes too long, it is easy to forgive its excesses because director Timur Bekmambetov accomplishes such a stunning nature of effects given such a conservative budget — effects that range from horses smashing through the walls to a woman skidding her sports car along the face of a curved high-rise hotel to a climactic hotel showdown between the forces of light and dark that offers another interpretation of the apocalypse. Indeed, he really knows how to marshal his limited resources into staggering heights.
Marked as a visionary filmmaker, Bekmambetov is certainly at the helm of the high-energy blast and visual pyrotechnics look and feel of “Day Watch.” Amidst the fact that he sometimes loses a more focused touch on the actual story in favor of impressive action sequences and amusing sidetracks, he keeps his story moving forward with the audience hooked up with every bit of his action-conscious vision. The story could have easily bogged down with its mix of cumulative and complicated interpersonal dramas, but the wonderful acting, interesting characterizations, and great dialogues all power up thew many effective post-production tricks to be enjoyed in every shot, every scene, and every sequence.
Bekmambetov gives a deliriously stylish and endlessly inventive rollercoaster ride on this mainstream audio-visual opus from the novels of Sergei Lukyanenko and Vladimir Vasiliev. It definitely sets the stage for a potentially interesting third chapter.
Shortlist of Las Vegas stores where you can buy Blu-rays/DVDs:
4065 S. Maryland Pkwy. Las Vegas, NV 89119
700 E. Naples Dr. Ste. 102 Las Vegas, NV 89119
6016 W. Tropicana Ave. Ste. 2, Las Vegas, NV 89103
4043 S. Maryland Pkwy. Las Vegas, NV 89119
6160 W. Tropicana Ave. Ste. E2 Las Vegas, NV 89103