Straight in, bosh, the title, lets ‘ave a word: the original Russian name, Nochnoy Dozor, is much more sinister than the UK-(un)friendly version, Night Watch, because it doesn’t sound like a historical documentary about the exciting developments that took place in the world of glow-in-the-dark wrist-bearing time pieces. It sounds nasty…
“Be careful little boy, legend has it that the Nochnoy Dozor roams these parts in search of flegling boys to munch on…”
See! And I just made that up.
The maestro conducting the multifaceted Night Watch is Timur Bekmambetov whom no doubt all of you will remember because of his classic 1994 film Peshavarskiy Vals. No? Well, how about the main actor in Night Watch, Konstantin Khabensky, does his name ring any bells? He was the fella in that one movie about the thing that other guy was trying to….errr…ok, I’ve never heard of them either?!
Allegedly, as the story goes, an army of evil and an army of, lets say, not-so-evil meet (in a Lord of the Rings kind of way) on a narrow bridge centuries ago and neither party is willing to budge (although I have a problem with this because surely the ‘good’ army would have been all like “hey dudes, after you my friends, we can wait, no probs”, being that they were good and not evil??). Anywayyyy….
So Team Evil and Team Good have a big fight until the two gang leaders both decide enough is enough and stop time dead. The dialogue probably went along the lines of…
“By eck my bunions are playin’ up some, fancy givin’ it a miss for a few hundred years Charlie?” (cuz bad guys are always called Charlie)
Charlie obviously agrees and everyone becomes immortal. I think. Maybe it loses something in the translation. Then we jump forward to the present day (in a Highlander kind of way) where we see our new anti-hero, Anton Gorodetsky, trying to drink a cocktail of his own blood and various household products so that he will turn into an ‘other’ and be given the choice between good and evil for enternity. A bit like George’s Marvellous Medicine.
What follows is a hybrid of vampire slaying (in a Buffy kind of way), pranksters policing the supernatural (in a Ghostbusters kind of way), Jean-Pierre Jeunet (in an Amelie kind of way), father Vs son (in a Star Wars kind of way) and Nescafe coffee ads (in a shameless product-placement kind of way), as though Timur Wotshisfaceski has gone out to the shed and tried gluing all these bits together.
Are they poltergiest because they cant be seen? Are they vampires because they have a penchant for flagans of pig blood? Or are they ‘others’ because that’s what it says in the subtitles? Either way, they all look like they have been hanging around too many bad Russian goth clubs…..actually, they’re not that scary.
Night Watch ticks the boxes marked ‘attractive’, ‘fun’ and ‘supple’ (*i.e changing readily) but unfortunately neglects the ones marked ‘English-speaking’ and ‘seeking similar playmates’. But then, who cares?! The cinematography and camera mastery alone are both worth the 4-quid entrance fee anyway.
Overall, it was perhaps hampered by some very sexy editing in the preview that made it more enticing than a virgin’s jugular. The reality, however, was a bit like when your ‘mate’ shows you a gorgeous photo of your blind date then you get to meet her in person…..wa-wa-wa-whhhaaaaaaa.
With the exception of Guy Richie’s Revolver, this is probably the most frightening film out at the moment, but for totally different reasons. Watch out for part 2: Day Watch. See, sounds awful in English! Otherwise, 6 out of 10.
And for those who cant be bothered to take my word for it, here is the ultra-concise review from my movie buddy of the week:
Rhysomatic: Need to show your significant other the movies that shaped your boyhood? There can only be one. This one. Suffer, they will. So who you gonna call? Er…Blockbusters?