Milla Jovovich as Violet
Cameron Bright as Six
Nick Chinlund as Daxus
William Fichtner as Garth
Sebastien Andrieu as Nerva
Ida Martin as Young Violet
Ricardo Mamood as Violet’s Husband
Steven Calcote as Young Daxus
Clay Cullen as Rebel Hemophage
Diego Swing as Daxus Aide 1
Theodore Thomas as Daxus Aide 2
Pete Spurrier as L.L.D.D. Chief of Research
Luke Jackson as Archministry Computer Tech
Chris Garner as Luthor
Kurt Wimmer as Speak-No-Evil Phage
Directed by Kurt Wimmer
Cool martial arts and special effects barely make up for laughably atrocious writing and acting, and an obvious sci-fi premise.
In the late 21st Century, the world is divided between humans and enhanced beings called Hemophages. The government is scared of them and wants to destroy them, so they create the perfect weapon to end the blood war between them. A woman named Violet (Milla Jovovich), who is a cross between the two, has made it her mission to protect her people, but then finds herself having to protect the weapon when she finds out that it’s in the body of a young boy named Six (Cameron Bright).
In 2002, director Kurt Wimmer made “Equilibrium,” a sci-fi action film with a premise like “Fahrenheit 451,” mixed with some very innovative martial arts action. Wimmer doesn’t completely hit the dreaded sophomore slump with this follow-up, but this time, the inspiration for his alternate future comes from places like comic books, Japanese Anime and comic books.
Wimmer has certainly upped the ante for his second film, because it looks absolutely amazing with production values equal to “The Matrix” without the budget. Everything from the set design to the costumes and the wicked weapons that appear out of nowhere are all great to watch, and the high definition format used–the same as used for the last two “Star Wars” prequels–really give the film a unique look.
From the fake comic book covers in the opening credits to the premise of a war between humans and mutants, Wimmer creates a film with a tone that should make anyone who enjoys Japanese sci-fi animation and fast-paced video games feel right at home. Because of his martial arts background, the fighting action is really exciting, all shot in an interesting way to put the scenes on par with Uma’s sword fight in “Kill Bill Vol. 1.” In that sense, it’s very much what a live action movie based on “Aeon Flux” should have been. While there are plenty of things we’ve seen before, Wimmer shows us a lot of new things unlike anything in previous action films.
Milla! Let’s face it, she looks good no matter what she’s wearing, and she gets to wear lots of different outfits. She’s probably one of the few actresses who can stand in front of such amazing computer-generated environments and still keep your attention, but when the guards tell her to take off her clothes for a full body scan, you can’t help but think, “YEAH!” The film’s futuristic setting will certainly remind you of her earlier appearance in “The Fifth Element” with bits like a sci-fi version of her ex-hubby’s “The Transporter.” Of course, Milla is much nicer to look at than Jason Statham.
Creepy Cameron Bright from “Birth” isn’t bad as Six, the young boy Violet swears to protect–yup, much like Paul Walker did in last week’s “Running Scared”–but he acts so similar to his previous roles that when Violet opens the container holding him and sees him surrounded by water, I thought she was going to pull a Nicole Kidman and get in there with him.
Although the soundtrack is the type of techno bass ‘n’ drum music we’ve come to expect from this type of movie, it was much better than your average action movie soundtrack. Heck, I’d totally buy it and put it in my iPod if it helped fight commuting boredom.
If you’re a comic book fan, those opening credits with renditions of Ultraviolet from some of the top comic book artists is almost worth sneaking into a theater to see.
What Didn’t Work:
The premise is so much like other things we’ve seen before from “Underworld” to the “Blade” movies to Japanese sci-fi, and of course “Aeon Flux,” that it’s hard to figure out why this film had to be made except to feed the diehard action or sci-fi fans who hunger for this kind of movie.
Unfortunately, Wimmer seemed so proud of the work done by his effects and stunt team that he didn’t realize how bad his script was, because the writing is atrocious. What was so great about the original “Aeon Flux” cartoon was that there was no dialogue, and this movie would have been greatly improved if it followed suit. Whenever anyone opens their mouth, the most ridiculous lines come out of it, even Milla, who utters everything through gritted teeth. It’s almost like the non-playing story portions of video games that you have to get through before the action pay-off.
The acting is just bad, although at least Milla is tolerable compared to actors like Nick Chinlund as the antagonist Daxus, and Sebastien Andrieu as her fellow Phage, who are so awful that you wonder how they were able to pass an audition to get their jobs. Fortunately, William Fichtner, easily the best actor of the bunch, only has a few scenes to keep from losing face, but it’s hard keeping a straight face whenever he flashes the ridiculous fangs in his mouth. (Oh, yeah these aren’t just super-powered mutants, but vampires, too! Of course!)
There are a few clever ideas, like the disposable phones Violet uses, but it’s strange when these are thrown in amongst all of the more ludicrous moments. Violet herself is introduced in the first five minutes with a flashback that tells her whole history, but it’s too much information thrown at you all at once, and of course, if you think too much, it’s impossible not to laugh at how silly it is.
The bond between Violet and Six, which should provide most of the film’s emotion, isn’t very convincing despite the touchy-feely moments they have. When we see them in a playground together, it seems so out of place to the rest of the movie that you hope it’s some kind of dream sequence or something in their heads. Apparently, it’s not.
Okay, it’s too weird seeing two movies in one week set in the future where the main character is referred to as “V”, since that’s what Six calls her, and there’s even a plot device almost identical to one in “V For Vendetta.”
The Bottom Line:
If you can disregard the bad writing and the acting that’s even worse than what we normally see in these movies, you might appreciate the martial arts action and CG effects in Wimmer’s innovative looking movie. Still, if you’ve seen any Japanese animation set in the future or played a video game, there’s really nothing new about this to make it special.