Edinburgh International Film Festival

Day Watch (Dnevnoy Dozor) (2007)

Starring: Konstantin Khabensky, Mariya Poroshina, Vladimir Menshovm, Galina Tyunina, Viktor Verzhbitsky, Zhanna Friske, Dmitry Martynov, Valeri Zolotukhin, Akeksei Chadov, Nurzhuman Ikhtymbayey

Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov

Rating: 1 2 3 4

Day Watch is the sequel and concluding part to good vs evil epic Night Watch, the biggest thing to come out of Russia since Peter the Great.

Day Watch (Dnevnoy Dozor)

The film begins where Night Watch left off: Yegor (Dmitry Martynov), the son of Night Watchman Anton (Konstantin Khabensky) and a supremely powerful Great One, has chosen the Dark Side after discovering that his father tried to have him aborted before he was born. But the Light has a new ally, in the (now glamorous, non-bespectacled) form of trainee Svetlana (Mariya Poroshina), who is also a Great One. But Moscow ain't big enough for the both of them, and should the two ever meet, the truce between good and evil that's held for a thousand years will finally be broken, and a cosmic war will break out that could destroy humanity.

Well, I say cosmic, but actually, like its predecessor, Day Watch places good and evil firmly on a mundane, human, almost parochial level. Lords of good and evil, Gesser (Vladimir Menshov) and Zavulon (Viktor Verzhbitsky) may have decamped from their high rises to a block of grim 1960s council offices and a swanky hotel, but otherwise, little has changed: the Night Watch are still patrolling the streets in grimy yellow rubbish trucks and hanging out in greasy spoons and neon-lit Chinese restaurants while the Day Watch are busy, er, preening themselves and practising the tango.

Mariya Poroshina as Svetlana in Day Watch

But while Night Watch was relentlessly grubby and seedy, Day Watch is much more self-consciously cool, pimping the cast with fur coats, high-heeled boots and truckloads of cheap glittery bling and replacing the somewhat unconvincing CGI with action-packed, Bond-style car and motorbike chases and impressive stunts.

In one respect, it's hard to imagine that a war between these two sides could result in anything more cosmically significant than the Brixton riots. On the other hand, by placing the powers of good and evil so firmly within the realm of humankind, it firmly underscores our responsibility for our own actions. The characters in Day Watch are no plasticine playthings of the gods, but must make their own choices and pay the price for their mistakes – even if that price is death.

Sure, there's a lot in Day Watch that doesn't entirely make sense, and the ending is either the biggest cop out ever, an Akira-style solution to the budget running out, or an absolutely perfect, supremely satisfying conclusion to the series - personally, I opt for the latter. There's so much frenetic action rocketing around the screen that it's easy to miss a few subtitles and realise you're suddenly lost, and, like Night Watch, it would certainly benefit from a repeat viewing. But, thanks to an absorbing plot, strong characterisation and a marvellous 'bodyswap' sequence that brings the whole film to light with comedic potential, I'd definitely be up for that.

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