Full of empty flash and little discernible coherence, "Ultraviolet" is akin to watching a video game demo for 88 minutes. Hoping to distract the viewer's senses by sheer overkill of sound and fury, the film instead becomes tediously repetitive, narratively hypocritical and emotionally antiseptic. Such an ugly bombardment of CGI (and junky CGI, at that) is the picture that there scarcely appears to be reason for the participation of human actors amidst the cartoonish effects and endless string of watered-down, PG-13 fight scenes.
Set in an unstable futuristic society where the uninfected human race commingles with a quickly dying-off population of virus-stricken vampires known as Hemophages, tough-cookie Hemophage Violet (Milla Jovovich) has but one mission: kill as many humans as possible. Hoping to penetrate the city's government in an attempt to stop their plan to exterminate Hemophages, Violet is given a briefcase, presumably carrying a weapon, that she must deliver before it detonates. What she discovers instead is Six (Cameron Bright), a ten-year-old boy who has been implanted with the key to her breed's saviorand the key to her breed's demise. As Violet and Six set out to escape the authorities, they have to move fast: without getting the answers they need, both of their lives hang in the balance.
," that calamitously misguided 2005 action-fantasy starring Charlize Theron, left a lot to be desired, and 2005's "Elektra
" was even worse that that. "Ultraviolet," yet another female-centric genre pic to give female-centric genre pics a bad name, doesn't exactly improve matters. Following a comic book-inspired opening credits sequence that is conceptually creative and visually promising, the film sinks like a stone. The story, for one, is a mess of indescribable proportions; not only is it frequently incomprehensible, but it also abruptly tends to introduce new details and developments depending on their convenience to advancing the plot.
The tone of the piece is schizophrenic, too, ranging from contemplative and somber to intentionally goofy and tongue-in-cheek. No basis is given for the changes the world has faced since the epidemic, nor is much of a sense given to who Violet once was in comparison to the infected killing machine she has become. Because of this, there is the nagging question throughout of why the viewer should care about her. Sure, Violet shows a soft side when she feels sorry for the gravely-in-danger Six, but she is just as quick to harshly threaten his life herself.
The only two actors of note are Milla Jovovich (2004's "Resident Evil: Apocalypse
") and Cameron Bright (2006's "Running Scared
"). The rest, including Nick Chinlund (2004's "The Chronicles of Riddick
") as archvillain Daxus, barely register. Jovovich has never looked sexier or more badass on screen, and arguably does a more convincing job than Charlize Theron did in "Aeon Flux
" because she at least succeeds on occasion at making the life-or-death struggle Violet faces feel palpably urgent. Unfortunately, Jovovich is let down by writer-director Kurt Wimmer (2002's "Equilibrium"), who loses sight of his characters as he jumps from one undistinguished chase or fight sequence after the next. That there is never a question to whether Violet will prevail, even when up against 750 men, evaporates any suspense it could have had. As the imperiled Six, Cameron Bright's past glimpses of enormous talent (see 2004's "Birth
" for a prime example) are diffused as he basically runs around a lot, shows minimal emotion, and says few words.
Choppily edited to capture the all-important PG-13 rating, "Ultraviolet" is lacking in the graphic stylized violence this sort of film demands. Because of this, the innumerable sword battles and martial arts fights don't carry any weight or momentum, each one blending right into the next. Save, perhaps, for an inspired music score by Klaus Badelt (2005's "Constantine
") that sounds like Danny Elfman's orchestrations mixed with a techno beat, tech credits are just as muddy as the plotting. One could argue that "Ultraviolet" only intends to be a "fun ride," but even this claim doesn't hold water. The experience is merely interminable, wholly forgettable, and without the requisite thrills and spills. I've been on the Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain (for which this movie's sets bear an uncanny resemblance), and "Ultraviolet" is no Space Mountain. It's not even up to par with the Mad Tea Party.