Night Watch (Nochnoy Dozor) (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner05/10/2005

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 116 mins

Ambitious Russian epic, with terrific special effects and cool characters, even if the plot gets a little confusing at times.

The Background
Kazakh filmmaker Bekmambetov’s ambitious film Night Watch (or Nochnoi Dozor, original title fans) was a huge hit in its native Russia. The first part of a planned trilogy (Day Watch and Dusk Watch are set to follow next year), Night Watch is an unusual example of Russia out-Hollywooding Hollywood. As such, it’s a stylish, dazzling, bracingly original thriller, even if it does get a little confusing at times.

The Story
Based on the novel by Sergei Lukyanenko, Night Watch has an epic plot that stretches as far back as a time before time itself, when the armies of the Light and the armies of the Dark reach an armistice. A treaty is signed that forbids the Dark from interfering in the matters of the Light and vice versa. In order to enforce the treaty, the Night Watch and the Day Watch are assigned to keep both sides in check. However, there is also the legend of the Great Other, a being who will become the most powerful weapon in the war and who can tip the balance of power permanently to one side or the other.

Flash forward to Moscow, 1992. Anton (Konstantin Khabensky) discovers his identity as an Other and realises he must choose either the Dark side or the Light side. Flash forward another 12 years and Anton, now fighting on the Light side, has to solve the mystery of a particularly unlucky young woman (Maria Poroshina) and track down a young boy (Dima Martynov), who may or may not hold the key to the coming of the Great Other. Meanwhile, the forces of Dark are also trying to get hold of the boy.

The Good
The action sequences are extremely impressive, especially the shot in which a van somersaults over a man. Director Bekmambetov keeps everything moving at a fast pace, although that occasionally means that it’s hard to keep up, particularly as the plot becomes increasingly convoluted and chaotic towards the end.

The Great
It’s an odd thing to say, but the subtitles one of the best things about the film. They’re used in an extremely expressive way, as if they have a life of their own. For example, they blur in and out of focus when someone is dipping in and out of consciousness, they explode and fly all over the screen and they even get obscured by shadows. Occasionally, they even threaten to steal the show from the actors themselves, but it works brilliantly and adds an extra level of weirdness to the film.

Night Watch is an extremely stylish film which is occasionally reminiscent of the work of Jean-Pierre Jeunet; imagine Amelie with vampires, shape-shifters and rocket-powered vans and you get the idea.

The Conclusion
In short, Night Watch is an enjoyable, if chaotic film that deserves to find its cult audience. At the very least, it ends on a terrific cliff-hanger that should ensure a decent audience for Day Watch next year. Worth seeing.

Film Trailer

Night Watch (Nochnoy Dozor) (15)
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Content updated: 18/12/2017 12:58

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