Top critical review
"Life is a bitch - and then you don't die"
4 December 2012
This review contains some limited SPOILERS.
This is a honest SF/modern fantasy film about a world in which almost all people became vampires and humans were hunted almost to the extinction. Quite naturally, that creates a problem of blood supply and as vampire government and scientists cannot find a synthetic substitute, the increasingly thirsty citizens first start to riot - and later things get much, much worse...
The main hero, Dr Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke), is the leading vampire haematologist (a pretty nice joke in itself) working desperately on finding a blood substitute, under supervision of vampire billionaire and power broker Charles Bromley (Sam Neill), who controls most of the "blood industry" (nightmarish facilities in which blood is harvested from human chattel). But Dalton also searches for a cure against the vampirism itself, as he is deeply unhappy with his undead "life". He will ultimately find a promising lead when he is contacted by one of "wild" humans, Lionel Cormac (Willem Dafoe), who until now managed to avoid capture. The film really starts from that moment.
"Daybreakers" is not a bad film, in fact it is a nice watch, but the story and heroes adventures are ultimately rather banal and easily predictable. Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill mostly go just through the motions as two stereotypic characters, one good, one bad. People who from the beginning are marked as just fodder die, people who we expect to live survive and those who ALWAYS betray, well, they betray... The one exception here is the pretty well thought character of Edward Dalton and Ethan Hawke's performance playing him.
But the main attraction in this film is the general vision of vampire's world, which is pretty well done and by moments very amusing. The vampires in this film are quite close to the "classical" vision of those undead monsters - they die if exposed to the sun, they do not reflect in mirrors and they can be killed only by a wooden stake to their dead hearts. As the result we can see at one moment in a mirror an expensive suit which seemingly walks by itself, as the person wearing it has no reflection...)))
The society in fact do not seem to have changed a lot. We have hobos begging on the streets for blood, street "fast-foods" offering blood-coffee, suburbia residences with a neighbourhood electronic watch warning about upcoming sunrise, vampire detectives making inappropriate comments on crime scenes, undead rebellious teenagers, class divisions and the rat race in work place are still the same, etc. There are also some pretty good one liners, as the one used as the title of this review.
So, even if the story is extremely predictable and most of characters are just stereotypes, this film still is a nice and rather amusing watch, recommended for SF or vampire films amateurs. Still, it is a thing to watch once and I do not intend to keep the DVD - so renting it rather than purchasing can be a good idea.