If you didn’t see Timur Bekmambetov’s previous fantasy movie, ‘Night Watch’ (‘Nochnoy Dozor’), the dense mythology of this diurnal sequel may defeat you. Madly over-plotted, with overlapping time frames and puzzling sub-plots, it makes no concessions to neophytes. The opening scenes whisk us back to fourteenth-century Samarkand, where Mongol warlord Tamerlane acquires the ‘Chalk of Destiny’. With this magical writing instrument, one can alter the course of history: presumably, by writing on the Blackboard of Fate.
Back in the present day, Svetlana (Maria Poroshina), a new recruit to the order-keeping Night Watch, investigates a random vampiric attack on an old lady – by her mentor Anton’s estranged 12-year-old son, Yegor (Dima Martinov). Anton arranges a cover-up to protect the boy, who has fallen under the spell of Zavulon (Viktor Verzhbitsky) and, you guessed it, gone over to the Dark Side. Meanwhile, a futuristic femme fatale drives her red sports cars up the side of a building, black vortexes of crows swarm in the skies, and every now and then the Dark Ones and the Light Ones have a paranormal punch-up in the mosquito-infested parallel world of The Gloom.
‘Night Watch’ suffered from a surfeit of fizzing images and a lack of coherent plotting. ‘Day Watch’, while still guilty of retina-punishing visual excess and heavy metal aural assault, ties itself in narrative knots. Bekmambetov heeded his own mentor, Roger Corman’s advice, that a director should ‘imitate a bigger budget than he has’. What he missed was that, if tied to a silly ‘B’ movie plot, the impact of these spectacular, aspirational images would be totally vitiated.