Ultraviolet (2006)

Ultraviolet

“The Blood War is On”

Directed by Kurt Wimmer
Starring Milla Jovovich, Cameron Bright, Nick Chinlud and Michael Fichtner

In the wake of a plague which turns humans into superhuman ‘haemophages’, a Blood War rages between the vampires and the military medico-religious establishment known as the Arch-Ministry. When the Arch-ministry develops a new weapon to wipe out the remaining haemophages, they send their greatest fighter, Violet (Jovovich) to intercept it.

On learning that the ‘weapon’ is in fact a human child named Six (Bright), Violet’s maternal instincts are stirred, and soon she is fighting both the Arch-Ministry and her own kind to save him. With only her weapons technician Garth (Fichtner) to help her, she must protect Six from her former commander Nerva (Sebastien Andrieu) and Vice-Cardinal Ferdinand Daxus (Chinlud) in order to… I don’t know; actualise herself as an individual or something.

What’s wrong with it?

“My name is Violet, and I was born into a world that you may not understand.” So runs the opening narrative, and I’d worry about anyone who honesty claimed to understand this world, because despite the constant barrage of exposition, it makes no sense (apparently this was at least in part due to studio interference.)

Speaking of exposition, the opening scene is loaded with voiceovers and hamfisted explanation. As Violet goes through the worlds most pervy yet coldly disinterested security scan (she is required to strip, step by step, with the instructions all-but demanding she do so slowly and sexily) a scientist asks if she knows why she’s there, agrees that she shouldn’t know, and then tells her anyway to ‘increase her motivation’.

The dialogue is also just plain bad.

The bulk of the film is a series of hyperkinetic gun and sword fights, but they are stilted and stiff, replete with dodgy CGI and punctuated by the terrible dialogue. It’s highly reminiscent of all the worst parts of Wimmer’s previous opus, Equilibrium, but makes even less sense. Also as in Equilibrium, the leader of the evil oppressive regime has ‘vice’ in his title despite having no actual superior, because… I don’t know, it makes them sound vicious?

It is never explained how the militarisation of the medical establishment and its assumption of world authority led to it becoming a church.

Violet’s hair and clothes change colour, but to no real purpose save once to indicate that she’s even more pissed than usual.

In a dozen fights, Violet is basically never touched, or even challenged, killing hundreds of men or haemophages without the slightest difficulty. No real explanation is ever offered for why she is so effortlessly superior to anyone but the big bad (who is also inexplicably badass for a quasi-religious surgeon, in a blatant case of Authority Equals Asskicking.)

Violet is a horrible person, her coldness explained by a painful backstory and redeemed in a dubious manner by her sudden maternal connection with Six through a painfully saccharine slow-motion scene. It’s blatant emotional manipulation to try to make us like the character despite her total lack of redeeming characterisation; or indeed any characterisation. She becomes distraught at the idea of Six getting hurt when she tries to leave him to be caught, but when she stumbles back to him and finds another young boy has been murdered in his place, she apparently doesn’t give a toss about that. She has no loyalty to any of the other haemophages (who admittedly have no loyalty to her) and her cause is… obscure. Early on she claims to hate the humans who have persecuted her kind and to seek their deaths, but she’s immediately protective of Six and later sees Daxus’ plan as monstrous for targeting human civilians.

The resolution of the film is complete bunkum, reliant on a series of coincidences and insupportable intuitions, as well as asking us to accept a heartwarming conclusion amid the ashes of Violet’s latest one-sided curb-stomp massacre.

The pathogen is called haemoglophagic virus, shortened to HGV, which in the UK at least is the acronym for heavy goods vehicle, suggesting that one becomes a vampire by qualifying for a truck license.

What’s right with it?

Klaus Badelt’s score is criminally wasted on this movie.

The flat space technology is goofy, but fun.

How bad is it really?

Holy shit, this is one of the worst films I have ever seen, and I invite you to peruse the archive and marvel at that.

Best bit (if such there is)?

  • The opening credits show a series of manga covers for the (fictional) source material, picking out the credits themselves in the cover text. It’s pretty neat.
  • The weapon scanner at the Arch-Ministry detect the bajillion guns in Violet’s flat space pockets and reports: “Number of weapons detected… Many.”

What’s up with…?

  • The colour-changing fabric? It’s never used practically and no-one else has it, so it can’t be a fashion thing.
  • The Arch-Ministry’s poor working protocols? Their vital project has one working prototype and no back ups when they opt to transport it.
  • The courier impersonation? Violet successfully defeats every genetic scanner, but doesn’t even look remotely like the woman she is impersonating.

Ratings

Production values – For an effects heavy spectacle film, the actual effects are really poor. Only the music really saves any points here. 17
Dialogue and performances – Oh my god, this is bad. The dialogue is clunky, and only Fichtner is really giving it his all. 19
Plot and execution – Whether as a result of the script or Sony’s interference, the plot is nonsensical and incomprehensible. 19
Randomness – Violet pulls a new gadget out of her arse every five minutes, at least for the first half of the film, and most are never seen again. The plot bounces around based on contrivance and coincidence. 18
Waste of potential – From an unpromising start, Ultraviolet manages to deliver much less than its already poor offer. 15

Overall 88%

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