Published Sep 09, 2009Initially, the glossy sheen, clever anti-capitalist subtext, gorgeous storyboarding and stellar art direction mask the many faults of Daybreakers, with dry exposition hiding behind top-notch set designs and tightly assembled action sequences. After awhile, however, we begin to tire of the bland, humourless characters and the piecemeal story patching together what is essentially a series of vampire-related, science fiction ideas and prospects without focus.
There is a message, sure, and a heavy-handed one at that, but it's difficult to care with nothing but wooden archetypes blurting out prosaic babble without subtlety or nuance.
Set in 2019, this political fable features a society loaded with vampires, and a dwindling human populace farmed for blood and hunted like animals. The problem with this is that without food, vampires mutate and regress to an animalistic, bat-like stage, killing anything in their path, which proves problematic in the face of social order.
With worldwide blood depletion looming, the pressure is on expert haematologist Edward (Ethan Hawke) to find a sustainable substitute. Unfortunately, his moral compass goes haywire when powerful businessman Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) unveils a financially-driven plan to use this impending invention to exploit humans and vampires alike, leading to an alliance with a band of ragtag humans with a plan.
While exploding vampires and aggressive battle sequences keep tensions at a high, erroneous undeveloped storylines involving things such as Bromley's human daughter (Isabel Lucas) detract from a standard road movie narrative, delivering little more than groan-inducing clichés in search of profundity. A camp value in slow motion slaughters and deliberate hokum in serious scenes help with this slightly but not enough to make the film a success.
Boring exposition and corny, convenient developments aside, Daybreakers delivers enough fun on the visceral and visual front to make the big screen experience worthwhile. It's just a shame that more cohesion and characterizations weren't included in the mix. (Maple)