Throwback Thursday: 'Night Watch' (2006)

The struggle of warfare waged between good and evil is all around us. It always has been, and it always will be so. When it doesn’t involve us directly, it makes for wonderful movie entertainment!

Here’s what’s up with the so-crazy-its-surprisingly-awesome ‘Night Watch.’  Set in Moscow, hundreds of years ago, two stubborn supernatural leaders, surrounded by their armies, meet by happenstance on a road. One side is a legion of warriors for Light and the other, warriors for Dark. Their tolerance for each other is already stretched thin. Arrogant and confident, neither side gives leeway for the other side to pass. This, of course, quickly accelerates into a bloody battle. Soon, as droves of both sides die in equal measure, it is realized that neither side can win because they are evenly matched in strength. The battle is halted and a truce is made to police over each other.

The two groups would continue on as they always had. But each side would watch the other to make sure the truce was not broken and to ensure the protection of humans from supernatural attacks. Then, as new “Others” came forward, they would freely choose which side they wanted to be on with no plied force placed upon them. The Others are classified as (but not limited to) Witches, Seers, Shape-Shifters, and Vampires.

Twelve years after his induction into the Light Others, Anton is an extraordinarily lonely and underwhelmed Seer working to track and apprehend Dark Others breaking the truce. Today is just like any other day. His task is simple: to track a connection to a young boy who is about to become an illegal snack for the baby vampire using telepathy to summon him. But when he crosses paths with a cursed woman on a train, his night is about to go from bad to worse as his plans go splish-splash down the drain.

Night Watch

The film version of ‘Night Watch’ is based on a novel of the same name, published by Sergei Lukyanenko in 1998. Like many screenplays adapted from novels, it borrows people and events but is not a direct representation of the book. The film version of the story was a big budget Russian movie, shot for $4.2 million.

The movie pulled me in from the very first scene. The opening narrative lays it all out: how the different sides came to be, how the truce came to be, and where ordinary humans fall in the mix. It was clear and to the point with great visual representation to help explain the situation. Some parts aren’t as clear at first, but they make more sense as the film goes on. The movie was interesting and quick, and it was nice that the film withheld aspects that were built upon later in the movie, not letting it all hang out in the first ten minutes.

It’s a supernatural film set in Moscow, so the reality of the events that take place there aren’t exactly of the normal circumstances. But in this day and age, everyone is aware of the supernatural element within the stories we read or watch, so it’s not so different than any others. The people are as down to earth as you could get for people who don’t have a 9-to-5 job at a desk and their unique sides often bring out their humanity through actions.

Night Watch

While I always enjoy a re-watch of this movie, there are a few snags that a first time viewer could have some trouble with; many times at first, some scenes don’t exactly seem clear. Things go along smoothly until Anton sees the cursed woman in the train. It’s difficult to know why he has such a violent reaction to her because it’s not expressed right away what he’s stumbled onto. So, until a later scene with another character in his office, you do not know who or what she really is, or what she is capable of. The story cuts into a “V” pattern at that point where two plot points become important to the overall film. Within the story, we are introduced to a thin veil called “The Gloom”, which is a temporary place of travel or hiding for supernatural beings. It’s a layer of the world, unseen by humans. But like everything else, it’s a living entity that takes a toll on the traveler. That realm was especially interesting.

Most of the visual effects have held up fairly well over time since the movie was made. The spider doll was a great addition that was enjoyable to see and I truly enjoyed Olga’s owl scenes.  The only real odd special effects seemed to be when The Gloom was represented. Some things looked a bit strange there but likely because of the technological film effect advances of today, which can be forgiven. The accents can get a little heavy at times, so you might want to consider using English subtitles if you’re having trouble keeping up.

Bottom line: ‘Night Watch’ is a lot of fun, and in an industry where there are many supernatural films, it’s one that is still able to stand out with its own unique take on the genre.