Sometimes I see a movie and I know it’s not any good but I like it any way. Often it’s hard to explain what makes me like a terrible film but I think I have this one nailed down. ULTRAVIOLET strives very hard to be a ‘comic book’ film. I put quotation marks around ‘comic book’ because the writer/director has a very simple (one might even say simplistic) view of what a comic book is. For Kurt Wimmer a comic book is obviously about super powered beings that must overcome incredible odds to save the world. Period. Comic books are not about character, plot, intrigue, humor or even coherency- at least for Mr. Wimmer. Comic books are uncomplicated black & white stories in which the good guys kick ass and the bad guys are pure evil. Nuance is unknown and reflection is for wussies. As deep as a mud puddle, as logical as a hypocritical rationalization and as dumb as a clubbed puppy ULTRAVIOLET understands only one thing- ACTION! Mindlessly colorful action revved up to unbelievable levels and rammed right down the audience’s throat.
I think the only real reason this film exists at all is to fashion blindingly fast action scenes that attempt to show its intended jaded audience something it hasn’t seen before. And here is where it commits one of the cardinal sins of Hollywood Science Fiction cinema. It wants to do impossible things onscreen so it uses the catch-all ‘it’s the future’ idea to get away with completely ridiculous things. “We want our main character to run along a room’s ceiling shooting the Bad Guys ® on the floor so we’ll just throw out some pathetic techno-babble to ‘explain’ it.” With this sad method many filmmakers have put their poorly thought out ideas on the screen for folks like me to scoff at. And scoff I have!
Like any sci-fi geek worth my saltpeter I’ve spent hours cringing over the stupidity in even good science fiction movies to say nothing of crap like the STAR WARS prequels. So why did I like this film while turning my nose up at others? I guess it was because of the sheer audacity of Wimmer. I’ve been angered over and over by sad-ass screenplays that seem written by people that no longer read books. Indeed I think the reason so many films these days suck in the way they do is that most of the folks writing them NO LONGER READ. Anything. So when I realized that Wimmer was making nothing more and nothing less than a film version of a 90s Marvel comic I just laughed and went along for the ride. Don’t get me wrong- it’s DUMB! But at least it showed that the writer had read something even if what he read was terrible. And damned if I didn’t find myself enjoying it the same way I’ve enjoyed bad Marvel comics from the 90s- as slickly drawn bits of fluff with nary an original idea or concept in its overpriced pages. Just sheer forward thrust coming right at ya! Don’t think- just hang on!
So it’s a bad movie. Maybe even an epic bad movie if caught in the wrong frame of mind. But for me it was like seeing a crappy 25 cent tale done with $50 million and that was entertaining all by itself. But I do wish Wimmer would aim a bit higher with his next movie. I’m not asking for Dostoyevsky but he could do much better than Tom DeFalco. Much, much better.