Oh great, a Aeon Flux / Underworld crossover. Every bit as painful as that unholy union suggests.
You remember Kurt Wimmer, don't you? Equilibrium? There you go. Rather enjoying that little outing, hopes were raised for this new flick before being rather cruelly dashed by the trailer which made this look like Equilibrium's retarded younger brother wrapped in cellophane. As it turns out, that's pretty much what Ultraviolet is, so kudos on the trailer accuracy. Little to no kudos for the rest of the film.
It's another dystopian future adventure, with society cowering in fear not from the threat of international communism or international terrorism, but from disease. With the populous suitably petrified of a virus that turns common or garden humans into "hemophages"; stronger, faster and pointier of tooth and doomed to die in short order, in need of frequent blood transfusions. Vampires, in short. This futurescape is lorded over by Vicecardinum Ferdinand Daxus (Nick Chinlund) and his hospital complexes, studying this virus and using his extensive military wing to hunt these hemophages and wipe them out.
Which sits uncomfortably with Violet Song jat Shariff (Milla Jovovovovich), being a) a hemophage and b) unwilling to be killed. Working with your standard issue rebel alliance, she intercepts what purports to be a weapon to finish what appears to be a rather one sided war, given the slender number of hemophages kicking around. This turns out to be a kid, Six (Cameron Bright). Shock, horror, etc. This eventually brings out the maternal side of our dyed in the wool killer, in accordance with all known movie paradigms, all the while fending off Daxus's attempts at retrieving Six in a variety of CG 'enhanced' action scenes that look rather like they were produced on a C=64, all to the tune of some pounding, pounding, poundingly atrocious techno music. Seriously, this soundtrack is as bad as I've heard.
Which fits well, as the rest of the film's about as bad as I've seen. It plumbs the same depths as its close compatriot Underworld: Evolution, but with stranger visuals and less polish. All of which is quite exceedingly frustrating, as the promise of a good film permeates the frames which only makes the horrendous mess that it's actually become far, far worse. The aforementioned visual style, clearly the single most identifiable feature present, is on a few very infrequent occasions arresting and effective, like little else we've seen. The execution over the entire film, however, is lamentable. The oversaturated, hot wax finished look of the film clearly needs more money spent on it than was in the pot; witness the scenes shot against green screen where the effects and makeup are combined to give the actors' skin a smoothed out, plasticised look, and compare with the less easy to control outdoors scenes, where they don't seem to have bothered.
Combine this with some CG vee-hick-el chases that look ropier than a rope shop stockroom and your left with a jarringly inconsistent, patchy, headache inducing film to watch. A pity, as when it works it's remarkable, but when it doesn't it's remarkably bad. The gunplay is no less disappointing. Given the admittedly silly but undeniably fun Gun-kata schtick used in Equilibrium, we'd hoped this element at least would have been suitably nailed, but they succumb to the same lacklustre, by-rote, adrenaline devoid boredom of the rest of the film, or perhaps Underworld: Evolution. Harsh words, no?
Again, there's elements that show much more promise than delivered. The technology thrown out with gratuitous abandon throughout this film is rarely less than interesting and deserve a far more grandiose showcase than they've had here. There's some nifty use of a personal anti-gravity generator, which had all sorts of interesting but sadly ugly implementations. Wimmer proposes a solution of sorts to the action film need to carry around volumes of ammunition that would require the characters to be followed along by dumpster trucks full of bullets by positing a sort of pocket dimension; a 'flat-space' just outside of this world where guns and whatnot can be stashed and retrieved through the use of Future Technology 7. Yeah, okay, it's a stretch, but it's the only stab at presenting a reasonable explanation for this that I can recall.
In a better film, this geek tech stuff would be the icing on the cake, but here it only pours perfume on a pig. There's little wit on display here, with a script that seems to have stalled at the first draft phase. This simply cannot be the best Wimmer can do, as Equilibrium is already about eleventy times better. This script is juvenile. When the best line on display is, "Are you mental?" there's trouble at t'mill. When Violet responds to Daxus's (paraphrasing somewhat), "Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough! What can one woman do against my legions of faceless goons?" with, "...I can kill them!", you have to admire her directness, if not her dazzling verbosity. At the risk of using the same example every other review uses, even the computers in this film are stupid. On being scanned for weapons on attempting a brazen frontal assault, a computer announces, "Number of weapons found...many!". Sheesh.
There's an age old axiom, if you want someone to emote, don't cast Milla Jovovich. While she's perfectly acceptable in the actiony type roles, when she's called on to expound her troubled past and her bond with Six it makes for painful watching. However, she looks pretty poured into the skintight outfits, and that's the main thing, eh? Nick Chinlund takes the role of 'generic overlord' and makes it his own. His own really bloody awful role, but his own nonetheless. We should, I suppose hardly blame the actors for not being able to do much with an irredeemable script, and it's also accepted that we should mention that this aborted attempt we've seen results from studio execs hacking a good half hour off Wimmer's cut and perhaps that would make a better film. None of the above excuse what we're left with, which is rotten to the core.
If you're really in the market for a film that mixes the worst parts of Underworld: Evolution and Aeon Flux whilst running them wholesale through a Photoshop filter, then I'm sure you'll have a blast with this, and let me know how the lobotomy is working out for you. For everyone with their faculties more-or-less intact I recommend against touching this, even with the longest bargepole you can fit inside your flat-space.
Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 1/5 TippyMarks.
Cameron Bright (Six)
Nick Chinlund (Vicecardinum Ferdinand Daxus)
William Fichtner (Garth)