Awfully Good: Ultraviolet

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

Katniss Everdeen isn’t the only badass female hero trying to take down a dystopian government…

Ultraviolet (2006)

Director: Kurt Wimmer
Stars: Milla Jovovich, William Fichtner, Nick Chinlund

In the distant future, a blood disease turns part of the population in to vampire-like mutants called Hemophages. One former human named Violet must protect the cure and bring down the authoritarian government trying to kill her species.

EQUILIBRIUM was the movie I made all my friends, acquaintances and random strangers watch in college. The John Woo-meets-George Orwell vibe may have treaded in to MATRIX territory, but it was still a cool flick that deserved a bigger audience. Not to mention Christian Bale doing gun kata was pretty badass. I was positive Kurt Wimmer was the next big thing in filmmaking.

And then ULTRAVIOLET came out.

To no one’s surprise, Dr. Giggles made a lousy optometrist.

I should first point out that according to Wimmer, ULTRAVIOLET was completely butchered by the studio, who cut down the two hour movie to 84 manic minutes, essentially just leaving the action sequences. And that’s exactly what it feels like—a choppy, undercooked film where all story and character moments not involving someone actively dodging bullets have been excised. Things are set up or hinted at but never paid off and the deliberately-created future society is hardly explored outside of a visual level. It’s a jarring and uneven experience (the first 25 minutes is pretty much the opening chase that sets up the movie) and honestly where most of ULTRAVIOLET’s problems stem from.

Hit Girl had lost her novelty by her mid-30s.

Most; not all though. ULTRAVIOLET is essentially a comic book movie not actually based on a comic book. (Despite what the fake cover-based credits sequence would have you believe.) The plot points are reminiscent of a lot of clichéd manga stories, and even the look and aesthetic—everyone and everything has a colorful glow to it—recalls a graphic novel come to life. Unfortunately, that means a lot (A LOT) of shoddy greenscreen and effects that the production clearly could not afford. It’s all style over substance… and the style gets old pretty quick.

This is the first film to have cheat codes for Goldeneye’s Big Head Mode.

There are some cool ideas and future tech on display, from dimensional compression to gravity leveling, but as used in the film, everything is overtly incoherent and/or downright silly. Even gun kata, just one of the many aspects of EQULIBIRUM Wimmer unsuccessfully tries to import, comes across as supremely goofy in ULTRAVIOLET. And it’s not alone. Here are some other dumb action moments you can look forward to:

After seeing what was actually in his guitar case, El Mariachi was promptly arrested.

  • A nonsensical anti-gravity motorcycle chase on the sides of buildings that ends with a motorcycle going through a helicopter. The CGI is so bad that the action is literally supposed to be defying the laws of physics and it still looks wrong.
  • A group of 30 bad guys form a circle around Violet, guns drawn. They open fire at the same time and she ducks so that they all accidentally shoot each other.
  • Another set of sword-wielding henchmen circle Violet and politely line up their heads exactly evenly so she can decapitate them all at once.
  • Something that I can only describe as a “hair fight,” where two martial artists use their long locks to attack Violet in a cemetary.
  • And last but not least, “fighting in the dark with flaming swords” might sound cool on paper, but onscreen… not so much.

Luckily, See No Evil and Hear No Evil weren’t subjected to the rest of the movie.

To her credit, Milla Jovovich tries her best to make this all work. As Violet Song Jat Shariff (that’s the characters actual name!), she’s able to handle the various action elements without breaking a sweat, but still can’t overcome the script. Her character is supposed to be a weird mix of motherly and badass, and so she spends most of the time acting schizophrenic hot and cold to the boy she’s trying to protect who might be the key to saving her species. (Fun Fact: The boy is played by Cameron Bright, who that same year also played a kid that was the cure to mutation in X-MEN: THE LAST STAND. What weird way to be typecast.) The acting from everyone else is so dreadful it has to be on purpose. It’s as if every actor in the film is struggling to speak English.

It’s as if the movie is apologizing to its own actors…

At least ULTRAVIOLET is so short and edited down it’s almost impossible to get bored. If I was 10 years old this would probably be an awesome movie. For everyone else, it’s just a disappointment Kurt Wimmer has yet to make up for.

Milla Jovovich’s best attempts at badass one-liners.

From gun kata to motorcycle vs. helicopter explosions, some of the film’s most ridiculous action sequences.

Violet shows off her ultra posterior in a darkened hallway.

Ironically does not come with an UltraViolet digital version. Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Milla Jovovich tells someone she’s going to kill them
  • Violet’s hair color or clothes color changes
  • There’s a reflection
  • The kid wanders off
  • Someone dies in an improbable manner

Double shot if:

  • It’s on

Thanks to Randy and Kevin for suggesting this week’s movie!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.


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