Ultraviolet: Unrated Extended Cut
June 28, 2006
The film presents a future ravaged by a disease known as hemophagia that mutates its victims giving them enhanced speed, strength and intelligence but with a drastically shortened life-span of 12 years. The government tried to eliminate all of the diseased but a number of them eluded capture and formed an underground terrorist group dedicated to bringing down the oppressive regime. Caught in the middle is a deadly infected agent named Violet (Jovovich) who retrieves a case that provides the key to destroying all of the infected people or it might save her because of her limited life-span has almost expired.
Wimmer packs in a lot of exposition in the first ten minutes (almost too much) forcing the viewer to absorb a lot information as this world and its rules are established. He certainly doesn’t waste any time, getting right down to the story but at the expense of any kind of character development. Ultraviolet doesn’t settle down until halfway through its 94 minute running time as it attempts develop its characters but by that point we really don’t care because we have been bombarded with all of this eye-popping action and vibrant set design. After awhile all of the exposition becomes too much to absorb and you just have to surrender to the film’s arresting style.
Wimmer ups the ante with the action sequences using way more extensive CGI in this film, most notably in an eye-popping chase sequence where an attack helicopter pursues our heroine along the side of a building, defying gravity as she rides along its face. Even the fight scenes feature a lot more CGI which is a shame as part of the charm of Equilibrium was the au natural combat.
Like he did with Equilibrium, Wimmer has created a protagonist that can kick major ass and look really cool doing it – what more could you ask for from a film like this? Sadly, Milla Jovovich still can’t act worth a damn but fortunately the film doesn’t give her much of a chance to as it goes from cool action sequence to the next at a near breathless pace. After working with such a talented actor like Christian Bale in Equilibrium what possessed Wimmer to work with the acting black hole that is Jovovich?
Wimmer adopts a striking primary colour scheme against bleached out silvers befitting Violet who can change the colour of her hair and clothing at will. In the background of a given scene there can be splashes of yellow or purple and then someone could walk by in a red outfit. It sounds like a jarring effect but Wimmer makes it work somehow. His command of composition of what is contained within the frame has become more advanced and his skill as a director has improved greatly (as has his budget, apparently) – this is a great looking movie.
Ultraviolet is similar in terms of story to the live-action Aeon Flux (2005) movie only with infinitely better action sequences. However, Wimmer’s screenplay is quite weak with very wooden dialogue. He should have adopted the less is more approach of Aeon Flux which was a nice example of visual storytelling. The set design and visual effects are much slicker and infinitely more colourful compared to the almost monochromatic colour scheme of his previous film. Ultraviolet is all a bit silly – scratch that, very silly – but it is completely committed to its own sci-fi hokum in a way that is strangely admirable. In a perfect world, the major Hollywood studios would give Wimmer $100 million to make a big, splashy summer movie instead of hacks like Brett Ratner who has no personal style. What Wimmer needs to do is stop writing his own screenplays and work with somebody who can – that would surely result in an infinitely better movie that he is clearly capable of making.
There is an audio commentary with the film’s star, Milla Jovovich. She spends a lot of time watching the movie instead of commenting on it and when she does it is to mention how “cool” something is (the Chinese stuntmen, the CGI cityscape, etc.) and offer other inane comments guaranteed to test anyone’s resolve.
“UV Protection: The Making of Ultraviolet” is a multi-part making of documentary. One of the producers states rather pretentiously that this film will redefine the sci-fi movie. Another one praises the script for being grounded in “reality” (?!). Various aspects of the film are examined, including key sequences like the exciting motorcycle chase, the striking architecture and overall visual look, and, of course, the elaborate fight scenes, their origins and how they were executed.