Ultraviolet (2006)

ultraviolet

“These moments, as beautiful as they are, they’re evil when they’re gone.”

The Scoop: 2006 PG-13, Directed by Kurt Wimmer and starring Milla Jovovich, Cameron Bright and William Fichtner

Tagline: The Blood War Is On

Summary Capsule: High tech vampire in skimpy clothes fights for her right to snarl. Sound familiar?

Justin’s rating: Would it kill ya to smile and sing a happy tune while you slaughter thousands of masked soldiers? Would it?

Justin’s review: If it’s ultra, so it’s gotta be good, right? If buying any and all consumer products that begin with the word “ultra” in a successful attempt to convince me that this is the be-all, end-all of [take your pick: fabric softener, suppositories, corn flakes] is any indication, I’m in for a full-on fleecing.

Ultraviolet is not a movie, at least not one as you might define a movie. Director Kurt Wimmer seems to think of movies as confetti and fireworks (both of which are in Ultraviolet) to razzle, dazzle, and ultimately fall into nothingness. Plot? He don’t want any. Acting? Bargain basement. Swords and guns and swords attached to guns? More, please.

This is a crying shame, because Wimmer had a genuine cult hit with Equilibrium, a movie he tries — and fails miserably — to replicate here. Equilibrium had its fair share of future-totalitarianism and rapid-paced fights, but it also contained a poignant tale of a society that lost what it meant to be human. It’s this latter part that Ultraviolet eschews, dumping excess emotions and story into a tar pit, and replacing all of the gaps with cheap CGI, loud techno, and Milla Jovovich staring like a hungry dog through her sunglasses at the latest level-six bad guys she has to mow through. I most certainly will go on to do all I can to smear this film into oblivion, but I’d also like to protect Equilibrium from being tarnished by association. Hey teacher, leave them kids alone.

Shalen’s once wrote a doctoral thesis on the motif of the Mechanical Man — a large, muscle-bound action hero who’s long on punching and surviving, but short of any real emotions or realistic associations to the rest of us. This is easy to carry over to the Mechanical Woman (gentlemen, we can make her stronger, faster and use her to market a very expensive lip gloss), of which Jovovich seems to excel in playing. Here, she inhabits Violet, one of the last of the mutated vampires (they’re clumsily called hemophages here and never bite anyone, despite the pointy teeth) who’s battling The Establishment (which are, I kid you not, over-zealous doctors) and showing off her tummy. She’s an innie, by the way. Violet’s only contribution to the story is her ability, with the magic of editing and rapid cuts, to chew through hundreds of faceless soldiers. Hers is a role model of dubious quality.

Her other attempts at fleshing out her character range from laughable to truly pathetic. She’s dying from her vampire disease, she sort of adopts a kid who’s the McGuffin to the whole plot, she has some sort of vague relationship with her weapons supplier/science guy Garth (William Fichtner), she’s waging war against the humans who hate her, and she gets a paper cut. I don’t go out on a limb to say that Violet sells none of this convincingly — no emotion, from “confused” to “sad” to “determined” to “smile time”, leave her body, no matter what she might tell you she’s feeling.

Not so fast, everything-else-in-this-movie. You don’t get off so easy, either. The main villain wears an omnipresent pair of nose plugs that are about the most distracting accessory a bad guy’s ever had — even blue lips. The few other speaking roles are obvious European imports that mouth English in a way that convinces me it’s their third language. The technology is largely unexplained and often jarring, such as when Violet suddenly starts running on the ceiling and driving a motorcycle up the side of a building, which prompted another character to start babbling an explanation like “She must have anti-gravity-servo-gidgits installed!” to cover it up.

This is supposed to be an oppressed, terrified society, but we really never experience the society at all — this movie literally has about five characters (Nose Plugs, Violet, Garth, Creepy Boy and Backstabbing Vampire) who talk and do anything other than cringe or walk by in the background. Don’t even make a wish on your birthday candle that this film will make sense in any discernable way. It’s not going to happen.

And, sweet Saint Peter, the dialogue is hideous. Atrocious. Every time Violet opens her mouth, you must steel yourself for words strung together in a pattern that has the capability to end you completely. There’s dumb when it comes to dialogue, and then there’s Ultraviolet.

Ultraviolet, like the attractive 95-IQ girl you’d sit by in Biology 101, tries to get by on looks alone. It’s all about being stylish, selling stylish, and smelling stylish. At some points, it’s slick enough to warrant an unimpressed “humph”, but all of the pretty pictures in the world can’t cover up a present made out of spoiled cheese. When you elevate your lead character to a demi-god status and then expect us to actually be concerned for her safety when she faces Group #45 of shock troops after decimating Groups #1-44 without so much as a scratch, I can’t be expected to do anything other than tune out and play a game of counting the camera shots that linger on Violet’s exposed tummy. Did I mention she’s an innie?

Oh. I did.

Good soldiers know that when apprehending a criminal, it’s important to stand very, very close to them so that they can take you out with one swing.

Intermission!

  • Uzi-swords!
  • The PlayStation 1-type graphics
  • Nose-Plug Man
  • Why do their hair/clothing change colors so much?
  • Many of the actor’s faces were airbrushed in postproduction
  • Milla Jovovich’s character uses a more authentic variant of “Gun Kata”, a unique blend of gunfighting and martial arts developed by director Kurt Wimmer for his previous film Equilibrium
  • In the beginning, when Violet is escorted into the building, the corridor is painted with long triangles of alternating colors: the logo of the Umbrella Corporation.
  • Screen Gems edited the film from its original length of 120 minutes to 88 minutes, against the wishes of director Kurt Wimmer.
  • Ultraviolet’s production notes state that Kurt Wimmer. was “inspired to retell John Cassavetes cult classic Gloria (1980) as a comic book action-adventure.” Gloria tells the story of a beautiful gun-toting woman who rescues a young boy from the mafia.

Groovy Quotes

Computer: Number of weapons found… [long pause] many.

Violet: [to Six] Don’t get any cute ideas either. The only reason I saved your life is because whatever is in your blood can save mine. If they corner us, suffer no delusions… I will kill you.

Violet: [to Six] When I was a kid… when I was just a little girl… I used to dream about this old, dusty road. And this road would go on as far as the eye could see. There were all these little white flowers growing around the edges. And it was such a peaceful place. But then you realize… when life settles in around you… places like this… doesn’t exist.

Garth: Why won’t you ever let anyone inside?
Violet: Because these moments, as beautiful as they are, they’re evil when they’re gone.

Daxus: I have seven hundred soldiers here with me. What do you really think you can do against that many men?
Violet: I can kill them.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Equilibrium
  • Resident Evil
  • V for Vendetta

 

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