Dark, light battle again in Moscow vampire tale

Posted: June 08, 2007

In Day Watch, Timur Bekmambetov's wild and woolly sequel to his 2004 amok-in-Moscow vampire thriller, Night Watch, the forces of light and the forces of darkness are at it again.

Which means that major traffic arteries are clogged, human blood is being sucked, and a panoply of weirdos, sinister and not, careen around, crashing through apartment doors and occasionally through tiers of time and space. One dimension is even called the Second Level of Gloom.

It's not terribly easy to follow - after all, Good and Evil have been at it for centuries. There's history to recap, there are conflicts to resolve, personal vendettas that need to be resolved.

Day Watch focuses on Anton Gorodensky (Konstantin Khabensky), one of the paranormal, quasi-police Light Others who chases around trying to thwart the Dark Others and thus keep the world in equilibrium.

Anton is training a new recruit, Svetlana (Maria Poroshina), who happens to have more supernatural chops than your average Other. Answering a 911 call, Svetlana discovers that there's a new terror on the block: a 12-year-old kid (Dima Martinov). The irony: this malevolent pipsqueak is Anton's son, who was almost murdered by his father in the first installment of the Watch trilogy. (Dusk Watch, the final entry, is expected in a year or so.) It's an infanticidal revenge story.

Rife with roller-coaster chases and gender-switching body-swaps, Day Watch deploys head-spinning cinematography and cool special effects. It's a trippy affair, even if it's just about impossible to track.

Day Watch *** (out of four stars)

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov, written by Alexander Talal and Bekmambetov, based on a novel by Sergei Lukyanenko. With Konstantin Khabensky, Mariya Poroshina and Vladimir Menshov. Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures. In Russian with subtitles.

Running time: 2 hours, 12 mins.

Parent's guide: R (violence, adult themes)

Playing at: Ritz at the Bourse

Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/stevenrea.

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