Timur Bekmambetov’s 2004 fantasy Night Watch was grounded in dank layers of impenetrable local mysticism, made palatable by flashes of Matrix-style spectacle. A trilogy was as inevitable with Twilight Watch currently in pre-production and this middle-chapter Day Watch tracing the further adventures of Anton (Konstantin Khabensky) who ducks in and out of various grimy Moscow locations as he seeks to bring balance to the endlessly shape-shifting forces of Light and Darkness.
Bekmanbetov’s show-stopping visual sense throws up a few choice visual flourishes, including a rider smashing his horse through a stone castle wall as if it was a motorcycle through plate-glass, and a sports car which defies gravity by driving up the outside of a glass building like the banked camber of a race-track. Yet, despite, or perhaps because this version has been cut shorter than the original Russian release, the story is virtually impossible to follow in anything other than the broadest ‘good vs evil’ terms. And while the gimmick of placing the text on the film like speech balloons has wisely been retained from the first film, much of the po-faced dialogue needs reinterpretation rather than translation. Proof that the Russians are not far behind the US in constructing baffling special effects blockbusters, the strange, foreign quality of the action makes Day Watch as mindlessly watchable as its predecessor.
General release from Fri 5 Oct.