is that rare film that--like The Matrix
--is not only visually dazzling but creates an intriguing, seductive, and thrilling alternative world. A young man named Anton, after dabbling in black magic to bring back the wife who left him, discovers that the world is populated by fantastical Others (vampires, shape-shifters, witches, and more) who have chosen sides--Light or Dark--in an epic battle. A truce has been declared; both sides watch the other to ensure the truce is maintained. But a prophecy has predicted that a powerful Other will tilt the balance, and Anton--who is himself an Other--finds himself crucial to the prophecy's fulfillment. There's no question that Night Watch
has weaknesses. Numerous plot holes get glossed over by pell-mell pacing, the visual conception of the apocalyptic battle between Light and Dark is curiously pedestrian (a bunch of knights fighting a bunch of guys in fur with swords--what happened to their various powers?), and more--but, much like similar problems with The Matrix
, it doesn't matter.
The alternative world Night Watch presents is so rich with possibilities that it takes on a life of its own, both as an imaginative universe and as a vivid metaphor for the moral complexities of our own lives--for example, though the forces of Light claim to be good, their often brutal actions call their virtue into question, and the forces of Dark make some compelling moral arguments on the topic. The movie is so overstuffed with ideas that many don't get fleshed out, but that only contributes to the sense of vitality and unexplored dimensions. Even the subtitles are used creatively. The impending sequels (this is the first film of a trilogy) may--like The Matrix--take all the stimulating possibilities Night Watch raises and drag them into the toilet, but for the moment, this is the sort of electric excitement that blockbuster movies promise but so rarely deliver. --Bret Fetzer
Fantasy thriller set in Moscow. Among normal humans live the 'Others' possessing various supernatural powers. They are divided up into the forces of light and the forces of the dark, who signed a truce several centuries ago to end a devastating battle. Ever since, the forces of light govern the day while the night belongs to their dark opponents. In modern day Moscow the dark Others actually roam the night as vampires while a 'Night Watch' of light forces, among them Anton (Konstantin Khabensky), try to control them and limit their outrage.