Ultraviolet Made in: USA Language: English Director: Kurt Wimmer Starring: Milla Jovovich, Nick Chinlund, Cameron Bright Year: 2006
Synopsis: In the future, a virus is accidentally unleashed upon humanity. Faster than you can say bird-flu, those infected become what are known as "hemophages." Deemed a threat to the populace, hemophages are hunted and removed by the government. We learn all this from Milla Jovovich's voice-over in the film's opening, and after yet another obligatory anti-government reference from Left Coast Hollywood, we are told that an authoritarian society controls everything in this Dr. Seuss-looking future world.
Hemophages become an outlaw group of revolutionaries who want to preserve their race. The virus has given them enhanced strength, stamina, and supposedly more intelligence, and they make use of their powers by trying to look cool while lounging in their brightly lit secret hideout located in the most conspicuously-looking tower in the whole city.
Needless to say, the only Hemophage getting anything done is Violet (Milla Jovovich), a sword and pistol-packing babe who's bent on beating the crap out of everyone in her path. And at the rate she's going she'll need a new hobby in about two days.
The story begins when the hemophages catch wind of a plot cooked up by Daxus (Nick Chinlund), the supreme leader guy in the world or something to that effect. Daxus has developed a weapon of mass destruction designed to wipe out the hemophages once and for all.
In an effort to prevent a most terrible end to their coolness, Violet disguises herself as a courier assigned to transport the weapon, and sneaks into the heavily guarded building where the weapon, sealed in a sleek ipod-white case, is located. Her orders are to get the weapon and bring it back to Nerva, the hemophage leader (Sébastien Andrieu), who looks and talks like an actor from an 80s Vidal Sassoon ad.
Oh, and she is expressly forbidden from opening the case. Without giving too much away, let's just say that strict instructions like that are the cinematic equivalent of those "do not remove this tag" labels found on your sofa.
Violet manages to get past the numerous security checkpoints, which include fancy x-rays, blood tests, invasive poking and prodding, and finally a section where she is ordered to remove her clothes and walk down a dark hallway, thereby causing every male in the audience to pay attention. Violet retrieves the weapon, and is about to leave when things go awry.
Outside the building, the real courier (another hot babe) shows up. The confused guards get panicky (I guess two hot babes in the same day violates some sort of quota in the future) and arrest her before she can get to the part of the building where she has to take her clothes off (damn!). Alarms go off and Violet is forced to do some serious butt-kicking/shooting/slashing in order to get out alive.
The plot of Ultraviolet thickens slightly when Milla Jovovich takes it upon herself to protect a little boy named Six (Cameron Bright), and when the hemophage underground and Daxus reveal hidden agendas.
Remarks: Shot in Shanghai, China, Ultraviolet barely scores higher on the watchability scale when it comes to pointless action movies, thanks greatly to Milla Jovovich's midriff. The major plotline is pretty straightforward (but stick-thin) and this flick more or less stays on track in that respect. The cinematography and visual effects are interesting as there's a specific comic-book look to the movie, and I must admit that the music score was all right.
But all this is like admiring peace and quiet after a nuclear bomb has gone off: it's hard to ignore what's really wrong.
The biggest flaw with Ultraviolet is that it tries way too hard to be cool. Vehicle chases that defy the laws of physics, logic, and most countries, create some hyper-stylized entertainment, but when it grabs you it fails to hold because it's a rip-off of either anime or classic Hong Kong action movies. And after a while, it just becomes loud and obnoxious, like standing next to a construction site while trying to do your homework.
The Hemophages, decked out in their designer outfits and sporting some expensive-looking hairstyles, look more like a bunch of metrosexual boy-band members trapped in a Mentos commercial, which may not be the best PR move for a bunch of hardened anti-government revolutionaries. It's too jarring and just looks silly.
In typical Hollywood 'we-think-we-know-what-audiences-will-like' thinking, Milla Jovovich acts and talks tough like the heroine babe she's supposed to be, but when she's done reciting wooden, hokey dialogue we are treated to scenes of her slashing away with her super sword in a series of watered-down Kill Bill imitations.
And to appease first-person shooter fans, there are plenty of instances where Violet mows down bad guys with more bullets than were used during the Battle of the Bulge. And it's always strange how the villains either can't aim or don't bother to take cover when they're being shot at.
I'm not saying that comic-book, adrenaline-rush action movies can't be cool. But in order for that style of filmmaking to work, there has to be a respect, or at least an understanding of that style. In the case of Ultraviolet, it seemed like the filmmakers simply went through the motions hoping that Milla Jovovich ever-changing wardrobe and hair color could keep the audience distracted long enough before the viewers realize they're being conned.
Who would like this movie: Ultraviolet is for fans of Milla Jovovich's butt with absolutely nothing better to do for 88 minutes...