Day Watch Review

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Anton Gorodetsky (Khabensky), a member of the Night Watch - an ancient order charged with enforcing a truce between the forces of good and evil - is framed for murder. Meanwhile, Dark Lord Zavulon (Verzhbitsky) schemes to use Anton’s alienated son to star


The Russian domestic blockbuster Nochnoi Dozor (Night Watch) was an adaptation of the first half of the Sergei Lukyanenko novel of the same name (actually a set of interlinked novellas). This follow-up has to finish the plotlines of the first volume and adapt the two remaining entries in the series (Day Watch, Twilight Watch). It’s an epic stretch, even with a ‘previously…’ montage to recap the story so far. But director Timur Bekmambetov confidently assembles the complicated plot, with its myriad bizarre characters (there’s a sub-plot about a vampire chef and his mixed-up son, not to mention the possibility that the heroine of the first film will evolve into a ‘Great Light Other’), and rushes towards a satisfyingly apocalyptic finish in which Moscow (perhaps the world) faces destruction as metaphysical war breaks out and the fate of all reality depends on a particularly bizarre MacGuffin.

The ‘Chalk Of Destiny’, buried in the fist of Mongol leader Tamerlane The Great, gets its own impressive historical flashbacks before amusingly turning up in a Moscow greasy spoon: its guardian writes his own destiny by chalking up borscht and dumpling prices, but various folks find more ambitious, dangerous uses for the thing.

Like all good fantasy franchises, this mixes action, mysticism and soap as intricate inter-relationships of the variously Light and Dark characters propel everyone to a cataclysm, which erupts during a birthday party in a high-end Moscow hotel that is headquarters for the forces of darkness.

It’s a rich film, as good at staging amazing car stunts in the snowy Moscow streets (and up the side of buildings) as making wry humour of a sex-switch body-swap plot strand. When the CGI cuts in for the devastation, it gets a bit Highlanderish - you’d think all these arch-sorcerers would come up with more imaginative spells beyond simply zapping each other. The major achievement is that it establishes its own tradition - very specifically Russian in cultural reference and post-Soviet noir look, but with the energy and pace of Hollywood.

It'’s perhaps a shame the series was wrapped up inside two films - though there are loopholes for further adventures. It relates to Night Watch the way X2 relates to X-Men: you need to have seen the earlier film to have a hope of following the plot, but