"Night Watch" is one of the most expensive Russian film production ever and enjoyed in it's home country the best movie start of all time (15 million US $ in its first month), but is it any good? Yes and no. First of all, let me say that this is a special effects film and even though for a Russian production this has a comparatively huge budget for CGI and makeup f/x, the results are decidedly mixed. Most of it is OK, with single drops into the ridiculous. The direction by former ad director Bekmambetov is stylish enough, without forgetting to portray the grittiness of Russian life circumstances. The actors are competent, though leading man Konstantin Khabensky is lacking in the charisma department. The story ultimately is the measurement of what is good and bad about "Night Watch" and it does contain both. The novels, on which this film is based, are pretty complex, making this the first in a trilogy, with "Day Watch" and "Dusk Watch" to come. The presented battle between good and evil supernatural beings is reminiscent of other genre efforts, but unlike, say "Underworld", "Night Watch" takes its elements seriously. This is a mixed blessing. On one hand you have a real mythology underlying events instead of a starting point for subway machine gun battles of longhairs, on the other there is no humor in the picture and the reverent and dead serious tone in spite of the bizarre events is sometimes overdone and a little laughable. The idea of supernatural police forces observing and checking each other is a nice one, as are numerous quirky little ideas, but overall there are two lame stereotypes for every good and fresh idea. Most disappointing is the double climax letdown. The 'grudge' storyline is extremely well built up with lots of suspense but ends with a whimper instead of a bang. The climax of the 'kid' storyline is muddled as well, but does offer a nice full circle resolution to one aspect of the story and features an interesting cliffhanger.
Overall, the shortcomings are (just slightly) outweighed by a fresh, different and decidedly un-Hollywood take on fantasy movie standards. This is an interesting and worthy effort, though strictly for fans of the fantasy/mystery genre.