Ultraviolet (2005)

Rating: **
Release Date: 3/3/06
Director: Kurt Wimmer
Cast: Milla Jovovich

What the hell did I just see? It's a beautiful train wreck of a film consisting of lush, if often ridiculous looking visuals, combined with one powerful and intensely pissed off woman, and rolled together with an incomprehensible "make it up as you go" storytelling mentality. Even the chaotic narrative of "Night Watch" (2004) was easier to follow than this. This is the film that "Aeon Flux" (2005) should have been - not that it would have made it any better, but it would have at least been closer to the source material. "Ultraviolet" is also the best video game movie ever made that isn't actually based on a video game. Schlock video game film director Uwe Boll should take note.

Let's see if I can construct a synopsis. It's the near future. A deadly disease breaks out that turns people into Hemophages, which the film insists are vampires even though they exhibit no classical vampiric traits. The Hemophages are immensely fast and strong, and have amazing regenerative abilities. Humankind fears them and wages a war of annihilation against them. Violet (awe inspiring Milla Jovovich) is a Hemophage who gets caught in the struggle to obtain the ultimate weapon and ends up killing EVERYONE in the film.

While the film has a definite bizarre European look to it, it has no relation to the superior British TV series of the same name. Every frame of the film has been run through numerous digital filters to create a vivid palette of colors and a smooth texture to everyone's skin. Seeing the already radiant Milla Jovovich with porcelain smooth skin is one thing, but when everyone in the film looks like a wax doll, it gets really creepy. The role of Violet was written specifically for Milla, and she gives a much better performance than the film deserves. Her menacing glare and burning intensity fuel the film when everything else falls flat. Any other actress delivering her lines would sound ridiculous, but Milla makes it believable. Nowhere is this more potent than when her enemy tells her "I have 700 armed men. What can you do against that?" and she simply replies "I can kill them." And she does. While Milla's action scenes are well paced and decently executed, they make no sense and suffer from obtrusive editing. Her opponents are stupid and fall too easily, and nary a drop of blood can be seen from the countless bullet and sword wounds that she inflicts. The visual effects are cheap and nonsensical, and the dreadful motorcycle chase is one of the worst looking chases I've seen since "Judge Dredd" (1995).

The film's biggest drawback is its complete disregard for linear structure and cohesive continuity. Ideas and story elements are presented and then tossed away and forgotten five minutes later. The film progresses just like a video game in that Violet clears a room full of faceless bad guys, changes outfits, and then enters another room full of faceless bad guys. Rinse and repeat until the final one-on-one showdown with the boss monster (which ridiculously takes place in total darkness). Granted, this is the kind of action for action's sake movie I would have loved when I was thirteen, but the progression of sequences needs to be logical and self consistent in order for it to work as a whole. Otherwise it might as well just be a collection of incoherent ten minute shorts, much like the original "Aeon Flux" (1993). Apart from Milla Jovovich's fiery presence and beautiful closeups, "Ultraviolet" disappoints on every level.