Unlike the previous film I reviewed (Brothers) I encourage people to see the trailer for Daybreakers so that you know what your getting into. This movie can polarize people who see it, if you like original and unique ideas plus a few good action sequences you’ll love this film but if you’re looking for a deep exploration of such an awesome concept you’re gonna be dissappointed. I tried to ignore the excerpt of one review on the movie poster that says something like ‘matrix + 28 days later = daybreakers’ because that would raise my expectations so much that I would probably hate this film even if it was quite good. Instead I wanted in expected to see a B sci-fi movie, which isn’t far from the truth considering the film only cost 21 million dollars. And make no mistake, this isn’t a horror film eventhough most cinemas list it as such, its sci-fi because of the way it explores its core concepts.
So Daybreakers is a film trying to show us how society would be like if vampires ruled the earth and humans were a dwindling resource. This is a growing concern because lack of human blood caused vampires to mutate into hideous being referred to as subsiders. And the movie explores how Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) works for a company that tries to find a substitute for blood so that vampires don’t have to rely too much on human blood. I was so happy to see a film that decided to respect the vampire mythos and show us real vampires. Vampires that don’t twinkle, vampires that don’t write on diaries and have relations with disturbed teenage girls, they decided to show us vampires that fear sunlight, vampires that are hungry for blood.. the type of vampires that Blade would love to kill. That is the main strength of this film, our cinemas are already saturated with vampires, werewolves and witches much like China is saturated with kung-fu flicks so it decides to stick with original concepts and still managed to be different.
This movie starts of real well, it really gives you a nice picture of how the vampire community might turn out to be 10 years into their inception. And the film looks great, theres a certain lack of saturation in the shots that really add to the mood of the film. Certain scenes like the subway suddenly turning dark and all you see are vampire eyes are short but sweet. You’ll be saying ‘oh thats cool, and I totally understand why they would do that ‘coz I think I probably would too’ to most of that stuff that the movie shows you in the first act. It also manages to feel relevant to our society because it shows hunger and our disdain for the poor or in this case the deformed (subsiders).
Its hard for me to talk about anything other than the first half of the film because thats what I found most interesting and because the second half is so forgettable that I already forgot most of the things that I wanted to bash from the film. There are a number of clichés in the 2nd half of the film almost enough to rival the cool concepts from the 1st half. The token black guy who’s first line was “it’s about damn time” the sibling rivalry between Ethan Hawke and his brother. The chick who forgets to wear a bra and who the main character is supposed to fall for.
This movie is like a typical comedy flick, you get most of the good stuff at the beginning and then the way the movie winds down feels like an afterthought. There were certainly a few scares here and there and a car chase sequence that was above average but I ended up being bored most of the time while watching this film.
There are three notable performances in the film, Ethan Hawke plays his character well, his not too charismatic but he’s likable enough that you don’t mind seeing him during most of the film. Sam Neill was so on point in his portrayal of a vampire ceo (Charles Bromley) that cares more about catering to a wide market rather than caring for his loved ones. And Willem Dafoe (Lionel ‘Elvis’ Cormac) who’s monologues I really liked but I still felt that he wasn’t used too well in this film. And why didn’t they Sam Raimi and William Dafoe in one scene? I would’ve loved to see them fight or at least debate their cause.
I liked this film because it feels like a little movie that could, low budget, nice effects, interesting plot, some nice performances and action scenes but I hated where they took the film after introducing the vampire society so well. That’s why I can’t recommend this film to anyone other than those who are really into sci-fi and/or original vampires. But no matter how much you liked the film, Matrix + 28 days laters ≠ Daybreakers.