Ultraviolet


Year 2006

Milla Jovovich as  Violet Song Jat Shariff  
Nick Chinlund as Ferdinand Daxus
William Fichtner as Garth
Cameron Bright   as Six
 
Director - Kurt Wimmer
Screenwriter - Kurt Wimmer  

"Too cool for school" kept going through my head during the first hour of this movie. Outlandish, surreal images kept piling on in imaginative and well crafted scenes. Ultraviolet epitomizes what modern movies should strive for. And every guy who liked Tetsuo: The Iron Man should watch this.

It's not a perfect movie, but it is different. That's not something that you can experience often when hundreds of "can't miss" sequels are being disgorged from Harpywood yearly. You've got to give credit to the director/writer for taking the chance to do something special.

I've read comments about this movie being too flimsy in terms of plot. These same commenters also say that the movie was too hard to follow. I'm not sure how you can have both. Either it's simple and easy to follow or it's complex and labyrinthine. Personally, I felt that the movie hit right in the middle. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I watched the unrated, extended cut and that that version was more coherent than the rated, abridged cut. It wasn't too clever and you didn't get lost, which is actually a slight knock on the production. There were some philosophical issues that perhaps should have been addressed.

The plot is that in the near future a woman with special powers of speed, agility, reaction, healing, etc. steals a weapon from the organization in charge of things. The organization really isn't in charge, but they do have ultimate authority over everything. In a comic book world, which Ultraviolet is, the organization's role makes sense. What the weapon is and what it represents changes over the course of the movie. This adds a little depth to the proceedings.

Violet (Jovovich) is a killing machine. Little Miss Multipass is quite convincing as a killing "Titan". (Her word, not mine.) "I have 700 soldiers with me. What do you think you can do against that many men?" Ferdinand "Dax" Daxus asks her. "I can kill them," is her response. She's like Cohen the Barbarian; Violet is always where the knives and bullets aren't. I really enjoyed that when she was surrounded by bad guys, she just stepped out of the way and let the bullets fly. It demonstrated why surrounding a target is often more harmful to the hunters than to the hunted.

Another thing that I loved was the saturation of the color blue during the outside scenes. It not only reinforced the whole ultraviolet aspect of the title, but it also gave the images an otherworldly feel. Often the streets are empty as well. This isolated the characters so that there are no distractions as a result of extras milling about. The austerity also conveyed a mood of individual loneliness. It all added to the mood of the movie.

The technological touches are great. Disposable cell phones made of paper are already in the works, so this was nice to see in the movie. There's also some sort of fourth or fifth dimensional Santa Claus bag that Violet has access to. She loads in guns and medication and anything else she wants. "How many more guns does she have in there?" Dax asks his henchman. "Plenty," is the response. It's not limited to Violet's use either. A 1 foot by 2 foot by 4 inch package that contains a five foot weapon and must weigh about ninety pounds is handled by multiple people as if it weighed ounces. I'm assuming it's just another use of whatever technology allows Violet to pack hundreds of guns without their mass. Then there's some sort of gravity shifting device that Violet has. She only uses it at the beginning of the movie, but it allows her to ride her motorcycle on the sides of buildings as if gravity was shifted by ninety degrees.

So I guess it's time to point out what was wrong with the movie. A lot of cool stuff was unveiled at the beginning and then forgotten - like the gravity shifter. Where did it come from? No one knows. And that bag o'tricks. What exactly is it? And the last series of battles is sad. Early on, watching Violet destroy oncoming hoods of a manageable number was fun. As the movie wore on, her adversaries became brain dead.

In one instance, the bad guys know that she's coming. They know what room she has to go through. When she gets to the room, there's one soldier there and he's facing the wrong way. So, she kills him and as the other soldiers arrive at their leisure, she takes them out piecemeal as they come through the doorways. They don't fire back, so it makes her killing spree simpler. In other words, it's nonsense.

And the final boss battle? Fiery swords to the death? They're fiery so that Violet can see in the dark? It may have sounded cool, but it comes across as lame. Although the coup de grace is nicely done.

But that's just the last half hour. For the first hour, the fine touches may have you applauding. There's one scene where Dax takes out three attackers. He shoots one in the throat, one in the eyes, and one in the side of the head where his ear was before the bullet. Each man grabs the point of pain before expiring. They are the three monkeys. Hear, see, and speak no evil which is the final order in which you see the three casualties. It was a level of subtlety that almost elevated this movie to the At Least Once category if it had kept up.

But it didn't keep up. Even the music went from driving techno to near orchestral to the detriment of adrenalin levels.

Then there's Kurt Wimmer's literacy level. When he's writing one or two syllable words like, "kill" or "all" or even "Titan" then he's okay. But give him more complex words like "monolith" and he's lost. At one point, he has Violet say that she's a monolith with regards to killing. What does that mean? Is she a stone obelisk? A massive structure? A powerful unified organization? He liked the word, it seems, and just wanted to use it. And yes, it does matter. When you're trying to sound profound and you come across as an eight year old who just has to use a word like "infinity" when they should be using "infinite" then you come off like a dolt.

When Violet has to be intense with anger, her one liners are great. But when she tries to show her vulnerability, the dialog is written by someone with a shallow, adolescent understanding of life. This and the uneven indulgences of the director (When he likes a piece of architecture, he focuses on it. Rather than have it be part of the scene, it becomes the reason for the scene.) take away from what should have been a better movie.

Profanity, some blasphemy, someone that may be Milla Jovovich nude from behind, and only a few flecks of blood here and there despite the exorbitant body count. There's a maternal aspect to the relationship between Violet and the boy Six, so there may be some chick flick potential. But I think that if you watch this with a girl, the girl will assume that you're watching it just to see Milla Jovovich in tight clothing.

Definitely check it out, but keep your expectations low. This really is the prototype for how science fictions movies should look and be paced in the years ahead.


Back to the "Not Too Shabby " list or the main movie list.