Day Watch
(Дневной дозор)

DAY WATCH (Дневной дозор)
Made in: Russia
Language: Russian
Director: Temor Bekmambetov
Starring: Konstantin Khabensky, Mariya Poroshina, Dmitry Martynov
Based on the novel by: Sergei Lukyanenko and Vladimir Vasilyev
Year: 2006

Warning: Do not read this review unless you've already seen Night Watch- this contains spoilers to that film.

Synopsis: Day Watch is the sequel to Night Watch. To get an idea of the backstory, you can read the synopsis of Night Watch here.

The Other who would ultimately end the great conflict turned out to be a boy named Yegor (Dmitry Martynov), son of Anton Gorodetsky (Konstantin Khabensky). And after Anton fatefully perpetrated a sequence of events years ago, the boy chose to be a Dark Other.

Now the only hope of saving the world from an apocalyptic battle between good and evil lies in an ancient relic called the Chalk of Fate. The Chalk of Fate is...well...a piece of chalk. But unlike other pieces of chalk, this one could turn back time to the precise moment when its bearer was faced with a fateful decision.

In other words, it gave the bearer a chance to undo a really dumb decision.

To get the chalk to work properly, the possessing it would need to return to the very place where the fateful decision was made, find a wall to write on (if there was one), and spell out what he/she wanted.

The plot of Day Watch, like the film before it, is clear. Since Anton was responsible for the impending doomsday, he has the motivation to find the Chalk of Fate and undo all that has happened.

Unfortunately, that won't be easy. Members of Day Watch are being mysteriously murdered, and he's being framed for the illegal crimes. His allies at Night Watch want to clear his name and don't want Anton causing any more problems by trying to locate the Chalk of Fate.

He's falling in love with Svetlana (Mariya Poroshina) a new member of Night Watch with growing powers, and of course, he's trying to redeem his son, Yegor.

All these elements eventually come together as the flash point of a massive supernatural showdown.

The Good: We are again treated to Bekmambetov's bold visuals. His creativity and style are as exciting as before, making the movie into an exciting experience. And as it was with Night Watch, the apparent simplicity of the plot is deceiving.

Day Watch quickly turns into a multilayered, complicated, and confusing tale of adventure, human strength/weakness, struggle, and love. Once again, the concept of Good and Evil is presented as a complex idea.

Rather than showing the forces of Light and Dark as two armies itching to kill each other on sight, Bekmambetov instead portrays them as two entities that share a deep understanding, and even a connection with each other.

The Bad: But as interesting as this portrayal is, it's one of several elements in the film that make it so hard to wrap your head around. I'm again at a loss to understand the exact nature, and limitations of, the powers of the Others. In Night Watch Anton can enter the Gloom, he seems to have some kind of extra sensory ability, and that's about it.

But in Day Watch he suddenly has the agility of Spiderman, he can switch bodies with people, and is even able to sort of teleport. Although visually it's exciting, it doesn't make sense. Does he develop these powers over time? Does he cast a spell? Drink magical vodka?

And Anton's love interest, Svetlana, is seen utilizing superhuman strength at one point. But she also conjures up a city bus and rams it into one of the bad guys. So does that make her telekinetic too?

Or does she have a power similar to Aquaman, but instead of being able to summon aquatic animals she's able to summon public transportation? I don't know.

Bekmambetov never answers those questions either. But to be fair, it doesn't really matter because it looks so damn cool.

Who would like this movie: First and foremost I'd recommend this foreign film to the pop culture/sci-fi/comic-book junkies who've seen Night Watch and want to find out how the saga continues.

Getting back to Bekmambetov's visuals, there are a number of shots and scenes that appear boldly symbolic and allegorical. Unfortunately, I don't know enough about Russian movies, history, or culture (beyond the frequent presence of vodka) to appreciate and connect what I'm seeing with a deeper meaning.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie even though much of the symbolism was lost on me. The actors did a fine job, and despite some surreal moments, I felt drawn to the characters even though I had a bit of trouble following the film.

As of this review, the third and final installment of this trilogy, entitled Dusk Watch (or Final Watch), is currently in production.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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