Night Watch

Night Watch

Night Watch (2004)

Centuries ago, the forces of Light and Darkness reached a truce.  The Night Watch and the Day Watch were created to oversee that tenuous peace and the human Others become their enforcers.  Now, in modern day Moscow, that peace is threatened by an ancient curse and the arrival of one who may shift the balance of power forever.

Years ago, Anton sought out a witch to cast a spell to bring his true love back to him.  He was willing to sacrifice her unborn child to do it.  Before the spell could be completed, however, the Night Watch burst in, ruined the spell, took down the witch and discovered that Anton is an “Other” – one of humanity endowed with supernatural powers.  Anton joined the Night Watch and now battles the forces of darkness as well, all in the name of maintaining the balance in an unending war.   Now, twelve years later, he’s hunting a vampire and becomes embroiled in an ancient curse that could destroy the world – while also seeking out the harbinger of a new age in which darkness or light will triumph once and for all.

This is a story with a lot of potential, some interesting ideas and plenty of twists.  The execution, though, is why so many foreign films get redone when they are imported to the States, because it reeks of slapdash amateurism.  The twists are overly exposed early, making them seem obvious when they are revealed.  The pacing is truly awful: it’s not easy to make the timeless battle between good and evil, complete with sword fights, guns, vampires, shapeshifters and magic boring, but this film accomplishes it.  There’s simply too much going on and too many threads to tie together.  As a result, most of the film is made up of clumsily paced action scenes smeared over top of lots of exposition.  The final reel then becomes a mad dash to the finish line, as all the elements must be quickly tied together with wholly unsatisfying resolutions.

There’s enough fantasy here to make the film watchable, as it’s essentially “Underworld” with the Messianic theme of “The Matrix”, but that just makes the wasted potential sting that much more.  Based on a trilogy of books, this first installment goes the opposite direction of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings”, cramming far too much source material into the film to be understandable or even enjoyable.

Stars: 2/5

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