Chaos theory, Russian-style

Day Watch

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click to enlarge OH, IT'S ON! The forces of good and evil do battle in Day Watch. - Fox Searchlight
Fox Searchlight
OH, IT'S ON! The forces of good and evil do battle in Day Watch.

Day Watch, the sequel to the 2006 Russian action-fantasy-horror hybrid Night Watch, begins with a brief introduction that brings us up to speed — or at least as close to "speed" as we can reasonably expect with material this convoluted. We're then left to wander the wilderness for the next 140 minutes, surrounded by signposts well worth gawking at, but that don't provide a clue as to our whereabouts.

Former music video director Timur Bekmambetov returns us to a more or less modern-day Russia where magic rules and where an uneasy, age-old détente holds between the forces of darkness and light — a balance monitored by supernatural beings known as Others. Popular Russian movie star Konstantin Khabensky reprises his role as Anton, a vaguely vampiric Other in Bono's old shades, who in this installment must stop a malicious, all-powerful entity from shattering the truce with a somewhat dopey, mystical device called the Chalk of Life.

Lots of other things are also going on here — including our anti-hero's son possibly turning out to be the equivalent of the Anti-Christ — but I'd be hard pressed to say how, when or why one plot strand connects with another.

Like its predecessor, Day Watch is as tasty as any Hollywood eye candy, but its storytelling chops are often tough going, with sequences filled with expositional gobbledy-gook that's sometimes silly and occasionally flat-out incomprehensible.

Still, there's style to burn here, and those willing to suspend disbelief may find much to appreciate in a world where witches, wizards and shape-shifters take part in a crumbling post-Communist bureaucracy. Much like Night Watch, Day Watch filters Blade, The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, The X-Files and more through a sensibility that's uniquely Russian, and, although there's not a lot of logic on display, Bekmambetov imbues his movie with slickly enervating visuals that make it all go down surprisingly smoothly.

Day Watch (R) Stars Konstantin Khabensky, Vladimir Menshov, Maria Poroshina and Galina Tyunina. Opens June 15 at local theaters. 3 stars

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