Night Watch

Director: Timur Bekmambetov

Russia| 2004. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 114 min.

Night Watch is a stylish and technically polished fantasy-thriller set in present-day Moscow, where the age-old forces of good and evil coexist in an uneasy truce. The forces of light form the Night Watch, policing the nocturnal activities of their enemies, who return the favour by day. Anton Gorodesky (Konstantin Khabensky) is thrown into this nether world when he sets out to get revenge on his departed wife. Soon he finds himself having to deal with vampires as well as his own supernatural powers as he gets caught up in the quest for the Great One, who will change the precarious balance of power forever.
Night Watch has enough style and magic to overcome the occasional confusion over exactly what grades the various mediums and wizards occupy in the hierarchy. One of the most enjoyable aspect of the film is the way it grounds its parallel fantasy universe in the everyday life of post-Communist Moscow. The Night Watch has its HQ in the run-down offices of the city’s lighting utility company; vampires and ordinary humans alike live in scuzzy city centre tenements or suburban high-rise blocks; the Night Watch patrol drives around in a battered armoured truck which, though jet-propelled, still has to deal with the Moscow traffic.
Director Timur Bekmambetov has great fun putting his cast and crew through some eye-popping action in underground stations, warehouses and spooky night-time streets. The digital and physical special effects are quite impressive, and the film’s overall imaginative scope has elicited praise from the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Danny Boyle. ‘Like Ridley Scott, Timur is an astonishing visionary,’ gushed Tarantino, ‘and Night Watch is an epic of extraordinary power.’ For his part, Boyle was overjoyed that the film not only contained ‘the greatest use of a frying pan in modern cinema,’ but was guaranteed to have the great Andrei Tarkovsky ‘spinning in his grave.’

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