Night Watch (Russia)

First off, Timur Bekmambetov’s Night Watch—and subsequent Day Watch—have nothing to do with the excellent Charlie and Dennis-helmed play Dayman. It’s a crying shame too because, against all odds, Night Watch makes even less sense than Charlie’s play.


How do I describe this movie coherently and succinctly? I can’t. Basically, there was a battle between Light and Dark, good and evil: the usual. Geser, the Light leader, and Zavulon (Viktor Verzhbitskiy again), the leader of the Dark, come to a truce to prevent unnecessary bloodshed.

Skip to present-day Moscow as some special people, known as the “Others”, have certain powers that give them the ability to choose which side to fight for: Light or Dark, the Night Watch or the Day Watch. For the purposes of this film, Anton Gorodetsky (Konstantin Khabenskiy, the Russian guy with the mice in Wanted) is trying to stop a couple of vampires from needlessly killing a boy. Meanwhile, a cursed woman is opening a vortex to the Gloom (the section between our reality and somewhere else…); thus fulfilling a prophecy about a final battle between Light and Dark.

Show of hands, who understood that? As I thought, no one. The best way I can describe it to the English-speaking movie-goers is that Night Watch is similar to Underworld. We have vampires as the Day Watch (the Dark side) and special beings as the Night Watch. The sides regulate one another to make sure the treaty is never broken and everything can go about as usual. Apparently the special powers of the Night Watch are described in more depth in the sequel, but for our purposes right now, they are extremely briefly touched upon in Night Watch.

Visually, the film is actually quite striking. Apart from atrocious cinematography in the opening ten or so minutes, the aesthetic appeal for the film is apparent as we are given sharp scenes with distinct effects and coloring/make-up. The acting is solid as well, as Khabenskiy gives a solid performance showcasing Anton’s struggle adapting to life as an Other.

The only problem, really, is the story. There is simply too much story and not enough of it is explained. Bekmambetov must have been trusting his audience to come back for the sequel because, honestly, there was not enough in the origin story to really draw me in. I wanted to understand the story, and would like to say the language/subtitle barrier caused problems, but I cannot use that excuse.

There were simply very few explanations for events in the film. For example, Anton is given a partner/sidekick, Olga, since he was almost killed in his first mission (of the film). Olga is an owl…until she turns back into a woman. She had been punished for crimes—supposedly explained in Day Watch—and seems to be the bad seed of the Night Watch. Her character stays on until the end but very little is explained. Another example is the constant presence of mosquitoes that IMDB explains as the presence of the Gloom since mosquitoes are similar to vampires (blood-sucking) and because Bekmambetov hates them. By the end, all we really know is that there is a fight between good and evil (even though the evil are relatively mundane), some people have special powers and there is an important little boy named Yegor.

I sound like a broken record by now, but this is another film that had so much potential, but falls by the wayside due to the weight of its own goals.  Despite all of this, I cannot really explain my interest in seeing Day Watch just so I can get some sense of resolution and peace of mind to know what I watched in the original film. If you had previous interest in this film due to its reputation, I would not try to dissuade you from viewing it, but if there was no initial intrigue, it’s probably not worth the confusion.

*The quick cuts and edits of the trailer mimic the opening sequences of the film. It’s tough to watch for an extended period of time.

  1. I actually followed the first film quite well after seeing it for a second time. Watched the second film and had no idea what was going on. If anything, its less clear than the first!

    • That doesn’t bode well for me to see Day Watch then. haha

  2. I don’t mind the idea of this but I wasn’t a fan of these films

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