Ultraviolet was either a complete error in judgment, or it was an experiment by writer/director Kurt Wimmer so see just how much nonsense he could cram into a movie and still have people come out to see an incredibly sexy woman chop down a never – ending supply of bad guys with her sword. I’m prayer for the latter because I hope that a filmmaker with as much promise as Wimmer wouldn’t fall this far, this fast. As the titular heroine says in the film’s trailer, Ultraviolet is from a future world that, we may not understand.? Talk about your understatements. I certainly wasn’t sure about what exactly was going on, and believe me I was trying. I was trying-hard!
The main thrust of the plot concerns a race of humans called Hemophages, victims of a government experiment trying to create faster/better soldiers. Hemophages are known for their increased strength, swift agility, light sensitivity and fangs. So yes, they’re basically vampires. Vampires called Hemophages that have been made an underclass by the human society that fears them to the point of waging a genocidal war against these mutant aberrations.
Enter Violet (Milla Jovovich), a highly skilled operative for the Hemophage rebellion. Her task is to intercept a weapon that will be deployed to wipe out the last of the vampire resistance. The weapon turns out to be a boy named Six (Cameron Bright), who’s blood contains a ready to disperse bio-weapon. Of course, Violet’s maternal instinct kicks in as she refuses to kill Six for the rebellion nor return him to the custody of Daxus (Nick Chinlund), the society’s totalitarian ruler, who Six just happens to be a clone of.
Believe it or not, the plot gets even more complicated from here. And it’s only an 88 minute movie.
The primary problem with Ultraviolet is that seems like Underworld meets Aeon Flux, neither of which were very noteworthy for being anything else but nice to look at. You have the heavily-armed, butt-kicking vampire babe who goes from good soldier to rebel on the run when her orders threaten her principles (Underworld); taking place in a world where Joe Q. Public is petrified by fear of disease while being ruled by an unscrupulous quasi-religious hierarchy (Aeon Flux).
The characters weren’t that inspiring either. Thanks to Resident Evil and The Fifth Element, Milla Jovovich can do this kind of stuff in her sleep-and I think she did. Cameron Bright does his creepy kid thing and the background players are more or less made of a collection of no-name sword meat. The only person that shows any sign of life is Nick Chinlund hamming it up as the villain, at least he seemed to understand what kind of movie this was.
Forget plot and character though, even the fight scenes were dry. There were times that Violet could take out an entire battalion of guys with a simple 360 degree swish of her sword, yet other times it took her five minutes to dispatch three or four inept guards. The big motorcycle chase was also less than underwhelming thanks to sub-par visual effects. Seriously you can see better stuff playing your X-Box 360.
I give a thumbs up to the production design though, so at least the film looked great. I loved the building that was shaped like a bio-hazard symbol and the foot soldiers outfitted with long cloaks and gas masks, like futuristic variations on World War I troops protected against Mustard gas attacks.
As I think more about the movie I seem to be developing a vague idea of what Wimmer was trying to accomplish, and usually I think having more ideas in a movie than not enough, but the movie is far too busy for its own good. Perhaps if the movie was made longer and the plot points had more of an opportunity to breath and sink in, the movie wouldn’t be such a mess.
Or if the filmmakers took some time to explain things more plainly and not just drop us in a unfamiliar world and expect us to follow along. It’s another thing that Ultraviolet has in common with Underworld, a seemingly inability or unwillingness to fill in the blanks of the story. For example, there’s no reason given why the colour of Violet’s costume keeps changing or why the Hemophages, who are obviously supposed to be vampires, are never seen drinking blood. (This is a disturbing trend in vampire movies by the way.)