Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

It is the year 2019 and the world that we used to know has changed drastically. With the exception that Chrysler Corporation STILL hasn’t changed the basic body structure of its 300 sedan. I mean it’s a sweet looking car and all but I’m thinking an update is long overdue. Admittedly Chrysler Corp’s stagnant design division doesn’t really have anything to do with this movie ‘Daybreakers’ but I’d just thought I’d bring that up just to keep you informed.

What has happened in this future is that there has been an awful occurrence of some kind of deadly disease that has turned pretty much the entire planet into vampires. Somewhere ‘tween girls are rejoicing. While this would seem like a serious suck-ass proposition for the human race, we being the resilient individuals that we are have found a way to turn that frown upside down and now we are just a society of functional vampires, complete with all kinds of vampire centric industries. One of these industries would be mining the few remaining normal humans for their blood to feed the vampire masses which admittedly has to blow for those few surviving humans.

The problem as it stands in this alternate reality is that as humans run low, blood is running low and now we have serious panic situation. Allow us to introduce you to Ed (Ethan Hawke), a hematologist working for the Mega Corp. that controls the blood supply and who is desperately working on a blood substitute so the populace won’t starve to death. Actually blood deprivation doesn’t necessarily lead to death but instead mutates the poor hungry vamps into some mangy looking winged golum like things. It’s ugly.

Ed has his own issues in addition to trying to create this blood substitute such as he being a pacifist who refuses to drink human blood for one. His brother Frankie (Michael Dalton) works for this same company as a soldier hunting up the few remaining humans so they can hook them up to the blood machine and His boss and owner of this company, Mr. Bromley (Sam Neill), is a bit of an asshole. But then if you saw how Ed’s first live trial of his blood substitute went you probably wouldn’t be too happy with Ed either.

What Ed would really like to see is a cure for vampirism and an opportunity to make this happen comes his way via a set of renegade humans led by a lovely woman named Audrey (Claudia Karvan) and an ex-vampire who calls himself Elvis (Willem Dafoe). The task for Ed would be to find out exactly how Elvis inexplicably became an ex-vampire. Elvis has an idea how this happened but he doesn’t have the precise details, thus requiring the need of a trained professional such as Ed. Unfortunately not everybody sees this vampirism thing as a problem and thus has no desire for a cure. Particularly Mr. Bromley who is making a straight up killing on the markets. Shootouts and lots and lots of exploding vampires shall ensue.

I had some issues with the blood economics of this movie. As it stands the Bromley Corporation kidnaps humans and basically bleeds them out until they eventually expire. Forgive me but that’s not very efficient. What they should’ve done is set up some nice comfortable human colonies where everything is provided for them including a solid diet and exercise plan. A place where sex is not only encouraged but required. Now these humans are happy, volunteering generous blood donations and reproducing at an alarming rate thus keeping their blood supply plentiful and flowing. It’s still a prison of sorts because they do not have free will, but it would be the best prison EVER. Of course that scenario would make for a totally different movie, one which would’ve been devoid of all the gunfights and silver arrow battles and exploding vampires. Cant’ have that.

Truthfully I was expecting more from ‘Daybreakers’. While I am sick and tired of vampire movies, the concept in this movie is a solid one. But I do think this is a film that could’ve used a touch more back story to build up the current story and give it more weight. As it is we’re dropped into the middle of this thing and are left to our own devices to fill in the blanks. Australian brothers Michael and Peter Spierig who wrote and directed this film have a definite eye for style, though I hope you don’t have an aversion to the color blue/gray, and the movie is striking to look at and does a good job of taking an audience into this cold, emotionless vampire world that they have designed. The acting is solid, though Ethan Hawke looks like he’s seen better days, with Sam Neill doing his best evil Goldman-Sachs CEO impersonation and Willem Dafoe taking this movie anywhere he wants it to go.

Ultimately however all this style and solid acting is wasted because ‘Daybreakers’ just ends up being more of the same old. Wasted is probably too harsh a word because the movie does manage to entertain but it entertains by doing the same old thing. Problems are solved basically via shootout or car chase, the final-final scene is something out of ‘The Terminator’ or ‘The Matrix’, Sam Neill is a great actor but he just might be playing the dumbest CEO and the worst dad ever and everything else in the film is all so terribly predictable. I mean seriously, at the end a bad guy has a gun trained on our hero and heroine about to pull the trigger… who on the planet earth actually thought that these people were going to get shot? Who didn’t know that the one character left that we haven’t seen in about the last ten minutes would show up in time to kill this dude? Now if the hero and heroine had gotten splattered over that classic Trans Am… that would’ve been cool and original. Sad, but cool. Not happening. Oh, that’s a spoiler, go back in time and forget I said all that.

‘Daybreakers’ does manage to have enough style, action and gore to entertain, but it really felt like that somewhere underneath it all the Speirig brothers have access to a much better movie that’s dying to get out.

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