A film review by Craig J. Koban

 
ULTRAVIOLET Ĺj

2006, PG-13, 88 mins.

 

Mila Jovovich: Violet / Cameron Bright: Six / Nick Chinlund: Daxus / William Fichtner: Garth

 

Written and directed by Kurt Wimmer

You know, I would like to think that I am a decent, affable, and fairly disarming young man.  Okay, I just turned the ripe old age of 31, so maybe I am not that young anymore.  However, in my modest advancing years I have astutely learned the many values of my lifeís many pleasures.  I am pretty sure that I am a person that is well mannered and thoughtful, not to mention a considerate fellow that takes great pains to make those me feel appreciated and commendable.  Is it too much for me to ask that I get the same respect reciprocated back at me? 

Itís no secret that I have had a lifelong love affair with the cinema, but like a jaded lover, I sometimes feel cheated on in the sense that some of the films I go to on my own volition donít treat me altogether well.  After leaving ULTRAVIOLET I can confidently state that this film fostered in me feelings of unparalleled low self-worth and apathy that I never thought were possible.  As I left the theatre I was more than ready to sign the divorce papers with the movies for good.

If there was ever a film that has the unique and uncanny power to make one feel absolutely worthless than itís clearly this one.  Am I engaging in hyperbolic rants?  I donít think so.  ULTRAVIOLET left me feeling completely and utterly emotionally hollow.  Itís kind of analogous to having a spouse come home one day and frankly tell you that they hated you and thought that you were the most intellectually bankrupt person on Godís green Earth.  This film is not unmercifully tasteless, nor is in offensively bad.  Yet, at 88 minutes I can confidently say that itís nearly an hour and a half too long for its own good.  Disposable entertainment has rarely been as disposable as this film.  

Is my life really lacking in so much meaning that I had to drag myself away from a perfectly good hockey game to see this dribble?  I mean, the Habs were playing the Maple Leafs in a good olí fashioned original six match up and the score was 3 to 2 going into the final minutes of the third period.  It would not be too unreasonable to say that the Leafs could have tied it up and went to overtime.  However, instead of staying in the comfy confines of my apartment and watching the game through to completion, I decided the abandon the sport I love the most, brace the harsh Saskatchewan elements, drive my way to the theatre through horrendously icy streets, all in an effort to see this film that celebrates wretchedness like if was in short supply.  HmmmÖwhy the hell would I leave the game for this?

Honestly, it would be easy for me to blame the cast, the director, the screenwriter, etc., but the onus of blame rests squarely on my shoulders.  No one forced me at gunpoint tot see this laboriously derivative sci-fi action flick, but by the end I sure felt like I had a .44 Magnum pointed at my head through its mind-numbing duration.  My memories of the film will not so much be in the domain of plot, characters, or prevailing themes.  No, my overwhelming recollections will focus more on my restlessness and overall uneasiness while watching it.  Not only that, but I will remember checking my watch several times, trying not to fall asleep, and mull over some of lifeís more intangible questions Ė like who I am, what I am doing here, and whether the Leafs came back and tied the game with the Canadiens.  Oh, and whether I wanted tuna fish or peanut butter for my lunch sandwich the next day.

Actually, I do recall scratching my head several times and trying to figure out what the hell this film was trying to be about?  ULTRAVIOLET is so pretentiously over plotted and takes itself so damn seriously that I wanted to grab the main actors, slap them upside their heads, and beg them to give up reasons as to why they signed contracts to be in the film and why they donít seem to understand that they're in a bad film.  It tries to be bold, provocative, stylish, and sophisticated with its action sequences.  On the whole, ULTRAVIOLET not only fails on all of these levels, but it actually seems to go to great lengths at grabbing the proverbial shovel and digs its own large grave.  It has big words in lines of dialogue that contain enough scientific mumbo-jumbo to make it sound intelligent.  Instead, it comes across as moronic and insipid.  It tries to be a parable about the grave dangers of governmental influence in our daily lives.  Instead, itís laughably about as topical as a condom commercial.  It tries to be a tough-as-nails and hyper-stylized martial arts epic ala THE MATRIX.  Instead, it seems like a copy of a copy of a copy of a film that tried to rip of the Wachowski Brothers landmark 1999 film.

ULTRAVIOLET should be hermetically sealed off in some way in a time capsule so that future, more sophisticated minds can see how we wasted out collective time in the early stages of the 20th Century.  I have rarely seen films like this one that are so monumentally awful that they never Ė not for once Ė seem to acknowledge that they are terrible.  This film stinks as bad as a poop filled diaper, so badly that it prompted me to use the terms ďpoop filled diaperĒ for the first time in a review.  It wants to be one of those adrenaline inducing action films that thrills and entertains.  ULTRAVIOLET bores so much with its deadening pacing and itís stomach-churning repetitiveness that I think it could have a second life Ė in pill form Ė as an cure for insomnia.  Trust me, if you take one ULTRAVIOLET you will most assuredly not have to call the doctor in the morning.

A film this appalling should not have been so hard to follow.  It plays itself out like one of those video games where you wished you had a special code to take you to the final level.  In a nutshell, I will try to approximate the plot.  The film concerns Violet (Mila Jovovich, looking good with exposed midriff, and thatís about all here) who is a hemophage, or a being that is infected with a blood sickness, I think.  The futuristic society she occupies is so paranoid about pathogens that all hemophages have been exiled.  Conveniently, Violet is not your typical babe in form-fitting pants and a million dollar face that could headline a Revlon commercial.  No, she is a lethal weapon, so lethal that she can easily dispose of countless enemies.  She engages in gravity defying kung-fu sequences that showcases her easily disposing of hundreds of enemies so often in the film that it soon becomes clear that she is invincible, so much so that any tension the film could have generated for her is lost.  She simply canít be killed.  Sheís that good.  She will not die.  She can't be hurt. 

Anyways, she is the leader of her people against the evil military forces of Daxus (Nick Chinlund) who really wants to destroy all of the hemophages.  It seems that he has recently made a doomsday weapon of some sort, and Violet positions herself to be the one who will destroy it.  Unfortunately for her, the weapon turns out to be a cute little boy (Cameron Bright).  She obviously does not want to kill the boy, but sure have a lust for killing all other types of human beings.  Nevertheless, she is on the run from Daxus and his men until the final inevitable climax, which pits her against him.  Does she defeat him?  Does Victoria have a secret?

ULTRAVIOLET was made over two years ago and sat lethargically on Sonyís shelves until they seemingly  vomited it on the movie-going public this year.  They have also released it shamelessly as a PG-13 action flick when it desperately should have been a hard-edged R.  Violet is such an unrelenting killing machine that murders incredible numbers in the film, but she does so in such a surprisingly bloodless way.  This may be the most violent, gore-free films I have ever seen.  It is not helped in the sense that all of the sequences grind the film to a halt with their monotony.   It has that frantic editing and chaotically filmed choreography that hammers you over the head with its ostentatious aesthetic trappings.  If that were not bad enough, we are dealt up equally ridiculous dialogue that tries to serve as exposition for a film that had audience members cluing out by the first five minutes. 

Who in the world is to blame for this mess?  I was shocked and horrified to see that ULTRAVIOLET was written and directed by Kurt Wimmer.  In case you forgot, he was the same man that gave us EQUILIBRIUM, a film that was a tad derivative on its own level, but was slick, well acted and directed, as well as fairly entertaining.  ULTRAVIOLET seems to proudly come across as the unworthy, bastard son of that film.  EQUILIBRIUM offered up promise of a potentially gifted voice in the future of science fiction.  ULTRAVIOLET has the inane power to not only end Wimmer's early career, but to put a nail in the coffin of the sci-fi genre entirely.  

Then again, maybe Jovovich is to blame for taking on yet another role which requires her to look like a pinup model why fighting evil vermin.  She did it in RESIDENT EVIL, did it again in RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE, and is now doing it here again in this film.  I just discovered that she's soon to begin production on RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION, where she will most likely kill lots of monsters again.  Sigh.  She obviously does not believe in the nobility of three strikes and you're out.  I guess she can consider any future legitimacy as an actress of importance to have disappeared now.  On a positive, she wears low-ride pants lower than any other human being I have encountered in the movies without generating an NC-17 rating.

ULTRAVIOLET is ultra-wretched.  I am not sure how else to elaborate on that sentiment.  The film seems so slavish to its comic book and video game origins that how anyone cannot see it as laughably atrocious is shocking in itself.  The film tries to be a big, sprawling sci-fi epic, but it lacks so much polish and competence that it comes across more as an unfinished Xbox game than a film (the filmís heavy preponderance on pitiful CGI effects drains away all itís life; it's visual effects are some of the most crude I've seen in a modern studio film).  If anything, this film represents what is so wrong with so many contemporary films.  It yearns for me to want to meet the studio executive that gave this film the green light.  In an age where films, like the recent Oscar wining CRASH, had an incredibly difficult time being financed by a studio, its disturbing how films like this are easily given the thumbs up for production.  Perhaps even worse is how it distracted me from other, more important pursuits...

Ö.like hockey!  Oh, by the wayÖthe Leafs not only tied the hockey game, but they went on to win it 5 to 3.  Why I left a great game in the making to see such an unceremoniously dreadful film  seems like the height of stupidity in retrospect.

  H O M E