I just applied for the awesome job position of Pre-Screener for the Toronto International Film Festival, and the application I sent in required the inclusion of two film reviews, maximum 250 words each. It’s been a long time since I wrote any reviews of such short length, and as a further challenge to myself I wrote them immediately after seeing each film for the very first time. Thus, I’d like to share these reviews with you, and here’s the first one. As always, I hope you enjoy the writing, and welcome any of your comments.
Timur Bekmambetov’s Night Watch, while never less than continuously entertaining, contains several noteworthy flaws that keep it from becoming the truly great film it occasionally teases the viewer with being. The film’s plot concerns a never-ending battle between good, day-walking vampires, and dark bloodsuckers over control of Moscow, with humans caught in the middle ground enforced by a precarious truce between the two sides, who form “Day Watch” and “Night Watch” teams to monitor the other side’s activities.
Night Watch unspools at a breathless pace, and some of the special effects are quite good, especially the spectacular truck flipping scene; however, some of the myriad plot threads, such as the large storm, which are introduced and then haphazardly dropped almost as quickly, seem to be in the film merely to show off the special effects. The story turns on the relationship between Anton, the protagonist, and Egor, who has special powers, but the reckless disregard of Anton, which drives Egor to switch sides, is not handled with the complexity that would turn such recklessness into real neglect, and this robs both characters of motivation. Thus, while a good film, Night Watch’s over-caffeinated editing, too-liberal use of CGI, and the simplified motivations of its characters destine it to cult favorite rather than true original status.