Day Watch (2006) — From Russia with weirdness

“Why does the wind blow? It wipes the tracks where we have passed. So that no one can tell, whether we still exist.”

Justin’s rating: Dub dub dubbing

Justin’s review: Seriously, what is up with Russia these days? It was so much easier pre-1989, when we had assumptions about how things worked in that crazy land of long bread lines and red commies. You could expect them to curse James Bond in ridiculous accents, wear floppy fluffy earhats, and spend their weekends defecting with super-submarines to the USA. After the Iron Curtain fell? I can’t say. I hear a lot about the kooky Russian Mafia, and there was that T.A.T.U. phase that the world rallied to one unfortunate week in October 2004, but that’s about it.

If Night Watch and Day Watch are to be my only glimpses into this fascinating new free culture, then I’m going to need stronger medication to handle it. Day Watch continues on in Night Watch’s grand tradition of obstinately refusing to adhere to linear storytelling – or reality, for that matter. Nothing is spelled out for you; you’re dragged along at a merciless pace through disjointed scenes, trying to filter out the noise to ascertain the plot’s shadow. In a way, it’s like watching Twin Peaks on fast-forward, letting your mind skip over the backwards-talking midgets to figure out who killed Laura Palmer and what the owls and logs have to do with it.

Here’s what I could figure out, with the help of dubbing, subtitles and flash cards that the Day Watch training school sent me. Anton, as you remember, is a “Light Other,” which is less of a calorie-free sweetener and more of a supernaturally-powered police officer, tasked with keeping the “Dark Others” in line. There’s a truce between the two sides, but everything is glum and grim and Sean Connery warns us about shooting guns in confined spaces. Anton’s life is on the up – he’s making a little teacher-student romance on the side – but he’s still depressed, what with his kid deserting to the dark side of the force after finding out that his dad tried to abort him back in the ’90s.

Following that, there’s some vampires, car chases, a murder, a frame, bouncing balls, a camera that stops time, and the CHALK OF FATE. The CHALK OF FATE (legally I’m required to use all caps in this case, as the characters pronounce it such) is some mystical writing instrument that can change reality by just scribbling nonsense, and its inclusion in Day Watch is no more or less confusing than everything else. People from both sides want the CHALK OF FATE and Anton tries to reunite with his son and then there’s a birthday party where Anton gets stoned and stuff is happening and if I keep typing in run-on sentences that’s because this entire film feels like a giant run-on sentence with no subject, verb or point.

So why watch? Why can I honestly recommend this above, say, licking a poisonous Amazonian tree frog and watching your wallpaper melt into psychedelic patterns?

Visuals, my friend. Visuals. In fact, just mute the TV and introduce this movie to your friends as an artsy-fartsy expressionist film project, and you might make it out with their respect. Day Watch rewards your unending patience with payoff scenes of indescribable awesomeness. Sure, you don’t know what is going on, but when you see one truck literally drive through another truck, with slo-mo destruction and twisted metal abounding, something inside of you is made happy. Day Watch obviously blew wads of money on its effects, which makes it a true shame that the story can’t match.

Funny, that makes me think of Matrix Reloaded for some reason…

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