Warning: I’m about to get all curmudgeon critic on you and deplore the current state of Hollywood filmmaking. I’m not gonna compare contemporary cinema with the studio era or the auteur driven 1970s, though. What I find myself feeling nostalgic about after seeing “Ultraviolet”, actually, is good old ’80s action flicks. I mean, do the kids today even like all these video-game/manga/sci-fi movies that clutter multiplexes?
I loved The Matrix as much as the next guy, but the Wachowski brothers’ picture backed its bullet-time kung fu with solid storytelling. On the flip side, your Resident Evils, Underworlds and other Aeon Fluxes are all about empty thrills, their muddled mythology and botched character development failing to register.
Worse, in films like “Ultraviolet”, the action isn’t even that good. Kurt Wimmer’s follow-up to “Equilibrium” (which at least had a charismatic cast) is a practically uninterrupted series of chases, shoot-outs and fights but, while there are some cool beats here and there, as a whole it’s mostly forgettable. The violence is as aseptic as the futuristic society in which it takes place, and it’s pretty ironic that a movie revolving around “blood wars” is this bloodless. Why doesn’t any recent American movies beside Kill Bill understand that when you’re cutting through a roomful of guards with a sword, the walls should be painted red? Carnage isn’t clean, people!
You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t even given you a summary of the plot, but that’s because it’s rather inconsequential. There’s no more than 20 minutes of (confusing) exposition, (sappy) drama and (stiff) dialogue in the film; the remaining hour is all post-Matrix visual tricks and bare-midriff Milla Jovovich kicking ass. You still want a little context? Well, there’s this worldwide epidemic, and the survivors want to wipe out the infected ones by atomizing a little kid, but this chick Violet kidnaps him in hope of using him to cure herself and her kind and, um… Seriously, I couldn’t even go on if I wanted to.
Anyway, my point is that these cyberpunk action flicks have nothing on the simpler, more down to earth excitement of badass classics like Commando or Die Hard. These movies didn’t have futuristic weaponry or cartoonish special effects, but they were full of blood and sweat, man.