Film: Day Watch

The problem with a sequel that aims to give you more of the same is that it might succeed. That’s my only real issue with Day Watch (2006), the follow-up to Night Watch, a gritty urban fantasy that surprised me last year with its stunning look, impressively busy, involved world-building, and epic clash of good and evil.

Day Watch continues the saga of the magical Moscow underworld, in which the Light Others (Night Watch) and Dark Others (Day Watch) struggle to maintain a delicate truce that keeps the world in balance. In this one, the murder of a Dark Other raises tensions between the factions, and the most likely suspect is our hero Anton Gorodestky (Konstantin Khabenskiy), who can’t confess without revealing his forbidden investigation of an ancient legend about the Chalk of Fate. The chalk enables the wielder to write his or her own future, and Anton wants to use it to rewrite his relationship with his son, but it soon becomes the focal point of a complicated power struggle that threatens to escalate the secret cold war into a hot one.

I found Day Watch tougher to get into than Night Watch, probably because it leaps right into its conflict without all the intriguing set-up of the original. Learning the world is often more fun than merely roaming around in it, so in that sense, Day Watch is like reading the second book of a series — an enjoyable return to an inventive universe, but lacking that initial thrill of discovery. That isn’t to say it isn’t a fun continuation of the story; it’s got the same eye-popping visuals, gritty attitude, and hard-edged soundtrack of the original, and I intend to watch the series through to its conclusion. But I didn’t find it quite as riveting as the first film.

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