In his filmmaking career, director Kurt Wimmer has been pretty unlucky. His films have something to say, but have suffered from bad fortune in the process of conception to realisation. His 2002 sci-fi piece “Equilibrium” (in my opinion a very innovative movie with brilliant action and a strong message) was released during the frenzy created by the “Matrix” sequels, and so went largely unnoticed. His latest film “Ultraviolet” creates a similarly bleak vision of the future, however this time suffers not from an unfortunate release date, but rather from Milla Jovovich’s bad acting and over-involvement from a controlling studio.
Set in the late 21st century, “Ultraviolet” paints a picture of a society torn by a war between hemophages (read: vampires) and humans. These hemophages are basically humans that have been infected with a virus created by the government to administer some sort of bizarre population control. People who become hemophage are hunted down by said government and either taken to concentration camp-like facilities for extermination or killed on-site. Eventually, the hemophages start to fight back, and a full-on war is waged.
The movie focuses on Violet (Milla Jovovich, “Resident Evil”), a hemophage who takes it upon herself to protect a human child (Cameron Bright, “Godsend”) that has the potential to rid the world of all hemophages due to a unique antigen in his blood. If you would believe it, “Ultraviolet” gets even more confusing from here on in. There are several plot twists and the film meanders, and the true intensions of any of the main characters are never shown.
The worst thing about this, however, is that it does not seem deliberate on the part of Wimmer (who also scripted). If anything, it seems as if Wimmer had written himself into a corner, and so just gave the vaguest ending possible in the hopes that the viewers could figure it out for themselves. It’s not entirely hard to figure out some of the story, however “Ultraviolet” sets up some pretty big questions and answers them only with gaping plot holes. Suffice to say, the script is rather lacklustre.
The premise of “Ultraviolet” is fairly original and intriguing, but the execution is poor, filled with chunky dialog and abysmal voice-over from Jovovich’s character. On top of that, the style of subtle philosophy that was present in “Equilibrium” is completely lost in “Ultraviolet”. If the movie has anything to say at all, it has already been said a thousand times before in movies such as “Blade”, “The Breed”, and “X-Men 3”. A lack of originality would have been forgivable if Wimmer had at least tried to embellish his themes; instead, he just left them buried underneath a mound of subplots and unrealistic action sequences.
And that’s another area where “Ultraviolet” falls flat: the action. Not that the action is bad, but although it expands on the very original and incredibly cool notion of the “Gun-Kata” presented in “Equilibrium”, it is just taken to a ridiculously unfeasible level here. Milla Jovovich manages to break more or less every single physical convention upon which modern science is built in the first ten minutes alone. I accept that “Ultraviolet” is not rooted in reality, but it is ridiculous to expect an audience to believe that one woman can stand in the centre of a circle of twenty men all firing guns at her and survive by doing nothing more than back flips. And if I never have to see another bullet-time effect again, I can die a happy man.
The acting in “Ultraviolet” is similarly bad. The only decent actor is young Cameron Bright, who plays human child/vampire Six. The rest of the cast falters, as if their ability to do the fight sequences came before their ability to deliver lines and emote. As an all-action heroin, Milla Jovovich is great, but as an actress, she is sub-par at best.
Yet, I can’t help but feel that it was the fault of the studio that “Ultraviolet” turned out as badly as it did. Apparently the studio cut close to 30 minutes from Kurt Wimmer’s original, no doubt to shorten the philosophy and plot and put more focus on the action. Perhaps if this footage was restored in a director’s cut, “Ultraviolet” would be a very different and better movie. Then again, with obvious script and acting problems already too big to be ignored, maybe 30 minutes of extra footage would only hinder “Ultraviolet”. Although not a bad movie per se, “Ultraviolet” fails to fulfil its potential, and whatever merits it may have are reduced to ludicrous, kick-ass action and Milla Jovovich in a skin-tight costume.
Kurt Wimmer (director) / Kurt Wimmer (screenplay)
CAST: Milla Jovovich …. Violet
Cameron Bright …. Six
Nick Chinlund …. Daxus
Sebastien Andrieu …. Nerva
Ida Martin …. Young Violet
William Fichtner …. Garth