|Day Watch (2007)
Konstantin Khabensky, Vladimir Menshov, Valery Zolotukhin, Maria
Poroshina, Galina Tunina, Victor Verzhbitsky, Dima Martynov
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Category: Action / Sci-Fi
Although still somewhat mired in incomprehensibility, “Day Watch,” the second installment in director Timur Bekmambetov’s Russian fantasy trilogy that began with “Night Watch,” is a step above its predecessor. Focusing less on mythology and more on story, Bekmambetov has managed to improve upon, and nearly make sense of, the groundwork he laid in “Night Watch,” which was released in the U.S. last summer.
Konstantin Khabensky returns to play Anton, a “Light Other” who is a member of the Night Watch, a group charged with policing the “Dark Others” with whom they have had a shaky truce for centuries. Both groups have members with ranging levels of supernatural ability and include everything from witches to vampires.
Although “Day Watch” does little to expand on who these two groups are and why they are at war, it makes up for this with once again providing some entertaining action that is slightly less blindingly stylized than that of the first film. Between the action, however, this installment also tells the more intimate story of Anton’s struggle to reconcile his love for his son Yegor (Dmitry Martynov), a Dark Other, and his Light Other love interest Svetlana (Mariya Poroshina). Adding to the drama is the fact that Yegor and Svetlana are now revealed to be the two “Great Others” that, if united, would kick off events that would break the truce and lead to another all out war between the forces of light and dark.
If none of this makes sense to you, you’re not alone. Bekmambetov hasn’t done much to explain the overall story so far. Fortunately in this film he piles on enough action and humor that one is able to put aside overall questions and enjoy the events at hand. One subplot involving a man and a woman temporarily swapping bodies is particularly hilarious and the ensemble of Russian actors in the film is interesting and fun to watch, especially Martynov as the evil young Yegor. He exudes a sinister mischievousness throughout the film.
Like the film before it, “Day Watch” isn’t for everyone. It has the characteristics and nearly the budget of a typical American blockbuster but somehow feels a bit second-rate at times. The special effects range from spectacular to a tad hokey but the unique story and stellar cinematography, for the most part, make up for it. It’s also probably worth revisiting “Night Watch” before seeing this film, as most of the characters and plots in “Day Watch” were first established and developed in that first film. Overall, however, “Day Watch” provides some enjoyable characters and action that leave you interested to see how things wrap up in the final installment, currently in production.
The single-disc release of “Day Watch” is almost as unimpressive as the movie itself. With the exception of an audio commentary with director Timur Bekmambetov, the only other extras that appear are a 27-minute making-of featurette and a collection of Russian trailers and TV spots for the film.