A survey of Milla Jovovich’s film career turns up action films like “The Fifth Element” (Luc Besson, 1997), “The Messenger” (Luc Besson, 1999), and two “Resident Evil” films (with a third set to be released in 2007). Milla must love kicking a*s, which probably explains why Kurt Wimmer wrote “Ultraviolet” wanting to cast her as well as why she would agree to participate in such a highly derivative compilation of special effects. The premise is summarized via a Milla voice-over: experiments on a pathogen to make faster soldiers goes wrong, infected people become hemophages (vampires), and a war erupts between the humans and the exiled hemophages.
Immediately following the exposition, “Ultraviolet” hurls itself into action mode. Violet intercepts a package and is supposed to deliver it to Nerva (Sebastien Andrieu), the head of the rebel hemophages. Even with explicit instructions not to open the case, Violet takes a look at the contents and decides she must protect it at all costs. From this point on, Wimmer tugs you along for a non-stop action, computer-generated and painted thrill ride—and I don’t necessarily mean it in a positive way.
Like his 2002 vampire action film “Equilibrium,” “Ultraviolet” features fighting choreography Wimmer calls “gun kata,” which combines gun-slinging and martial arts techniques. The former enjoyed a brief domestic theatrical release before going straight to DVD but at least had a semi-decently developed narrative. The latter, on the other hand, proves just how unappealing action films are when they expend virtually no discernible effort to balance spectacle with story. Yes, Violet is motivated in kicking a*s, and she looks fantastic slicing and shooting, but non-threatening villains and weak conflict drag the film into depths of mediocrity.
“Ultraviolet” owes its entire visual design—and arguably existence—to the aesthetics of first-person shooter video games and the awareness that fighting sequences possess an artistic dimension. Although it looks cool, appearances aren’t everything. Milla Jovovich may look hot in spandex and bangs, but if you want rapidly-cut, slow-motioned-for-emphasis spectacle AND story, take in some ESPN highlights or any production by NFL Films. At least you would be getting your money’s worth.