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"I come from a world you may not understand," says Violet (Milla Jovovich: THE FIFTH ELEMENT, RESIDENT EVIL, RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE) in both the ads for and the opening narration of ULTRAVIOLET. This, of course, is an insult to my intelligence – making the assumption before the fact that I won't understand something. Try me, bitch.
Ok, that's not fair. And I don't want you to think I went into this movie with a bad attitude because I didn't. I'm a fan of Ms. Jovovich and I'm a big fan of Kurt Wimmer who wrote (SPHERE, EQUILIBRIUM) and directed (EQUILIBRIUM) this movie. My affection for Mr. Wimmer comes entirely from EQUILIBRIUM, a movie about a kick-ass super warrior in a repressive future society. It's a great movie with cool, intriguing characters and action scenes better than THE MATRIX.
ULTRAVIOLET opens with a great deal of narration. Violet tells us all about her future world. A military experiment on an unusual virus resulted in a strange blood disease. The infected are called hemophages and a religious dictatorship has come to power in the aftermath of the plague. Infected people were first isolated in camps and finally made to "disappear". Violet herself saw security forces murder her husband and then forcibly end her pregnancy.
But this disease isn't exactly debilitating. Hemophages are stronger, faster and tougher than uninfected humans (they also have long, sharp teeth, but the "V" word isn't mentioned until much later). And some of them have formed a resistance movement, which is where Violet comes in.
Hemophage soldiers launch an attack on a blood processing facility while Violet shows up elsewhere disguised as a human messenger to pick up a package containing some kind of weapon meant to be used against her kind. Neither task goes well and we see the first of many, many fight scenes. The scenes are very cartoonish (as is the whole movie, like SIN CITY) or maybe very "comic book" is more accurate. I think what Mr. Wimmer was trying for here is a way to be both "comic book" and to top the well received fight scenes from EQUILIBRIUM.
He fails. For fight scenes to be exciting (or for movies to be exciting) you have to care about the characters. The characters here are so very flat, so completely two-dimensional, that you just don't care when they get knocked down. EQUILIBRIUM worked because the people were believable and human. There's none of that here.
The dialogue is so cliché that you could use it in a screenwriting class as cautionary examples. There's even a screenwriting 101 no-no when one character says to another, "As you know…" and proceeds to dump another load of exposition on us. You're not supposed to do that in a script because it plays just as stupid as it sounds. If he already "knows" what the hell are you telling him for?
The overall impression is that the weak story is just a vehicle to get us from one fight scene to the next, as though the fight scenes would be so cool we wouldn't notice that the movie sucked. This impression is right from the beginning when Violet's narration quickly tosses out her back story as though to get it out of the way and hurry up and get to the action.
But what about the science? Time for a comic book
What I will talk about is the one, single cool thing in this movie. Violet carries knives, swords, dozens of guns and what amounts to tons of ammunition all while wearing a sexy, skintight outfit. She can do this because all that hardware is stored in an extra-dimensional space she can reach into whenever she needs to (called “flat space technology” in the movie). Stretching space like that is mathematically plausible and will be familiar to anyone who ever read “Flatland” by Edwin A. Abbott or saw "Land of the Lost" on Saturday mornings in the 70’s.
I feel bad. I really wanted to like this movie and I cut it every break I could. But the fact is its awful and the blame lies entirely with Mr. Wimmer. Many of the supporting characters are played by good actors, like Garth (William Fitchner: VIRTUOSITY, STRANGE DAYS, SWITCHBACK, EQUILIBRIUM, INVASION [TV]) or Six (Cameron Bright: GODSEND, THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND), but if this was all you saw them in you'd never know they had any talent. That's always the sign of bad direction.
I give ULTRAVIOLET one shriek girl.
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