Zapreshchyonnaya realnost [Interceptor] (2009)

(Literal translation: Forbidden Reality)

When I watched this one not too long ago, I had a rather strange moment at the very end of the film: I knew I’d seen that final scene before, but for the life of me I can’t remember seeing the rest of this film!

Mind you, I know there was a stray Russian film usually billed as “science fiction” which I saw but whose title I can’t remember.  So this might be it, and some of the details fit.

But the film itself clearly did not stick in my mind.

Which, yes, is a very bad sign.

Now we frequently have a problem these days sorting out a question which you wouldn’t think should be that hard:

What kind of movie are we watching here?

That’s because so many films combine elements from a number of different genres or use them as mere background details.  That’s certainly true of Interceptor, which mixes elements of horror, science fiction and fantasy — and yet clearly isn’t any of these.

Like so many films today it is basically an action film.

But then, a lot of the films discussed on this site are.  And, as it has powerful psychotronic weapons, and parallel worlds/alternate realities/other dimensions or whatever you want to call it, it is also science fiction.

Although all the talk about balance, darkness and entities might also get this one filed as Fantasy as well.  Certainly the white-clad  beings in their misty white world who are controlling things behind the scenes look more like they came out of The Lord of the Rings.

However, they are what gives away the game and lets you know what this movie truly is:

A copy of the Russian horror fantasy, Night Watch.

It’s even based on a novel by a Russian science fiction author.  Or is it a “series” as they planned to make not just one film but a trilogy?

A young soldier, Matvey, survives a leap (sans parachute) from an exploding plane.  He goes and lives a quiet life in the country, allowing the world to believe he is dead, but the mysterious guardians of our world, trying to keep the universe safe from the intrusion of a dark entity and preserve balance, chose him as one of their warriors.

The dark thing has taken over an important politician who is on the verge of becoming the next Russian President, and it is up to Matvey to stop him, with the help of an aging warrior.

Which leads to a lot of action sequences.

Lots and lots of action sequences.

Now I have to say, they do that action quite well, as well as your typical medium-priced American Action movie.  They even use longer takes in the fight scenes than most Hollywood films.

There’s a nice sense of design to the glimpses of the alternate world we get, and the dark entity itself, which manifests itself as lots of black spikes is quite impressive in a “heavy on the CGI” sort of way.  Our glimpses of the psychotronic weapons at work are imaginative and done reasonably well — at least when seen on Youtube.

But then, I suspect a lot of the CGI in 2009 films wouldn’t necessarily look that good on the big screen these days.

A lot of people have complained that the plot didn’t make sense.  I didn’t have any trouble following things myself, although it is a complex sort of story with a number of various factions — the interdimensional guardians, political groups, henchmen, an anti-crime vigilante group, Matvey’s old special forces comrades, an old flame turned girl henchman number one, and the usual girl reporter the hero is interested in.  She is one of the main problems with the film, however, as she vanishes from the last ten or fifteen minutes of the film, except for a few quick glimpses, and Matvey just doesn’t seem all that interested in trying to save her.

Which just feels a bit odd.

Somehow an awful lot of this feels familiar if you lived through the Eighties — good guys, bad guys, a car chase, a big commando raid on the bad guy at the end, the older mentor who gets killed off, the evil politician.

Just as large parts of it feel very familiar if you’ve seen Night Watch: powerful entities, the war between dark and light, the secret armies of warriors on either side moving unseen among the rest of us, “magical” powers, trying to keep the balance.

Although I will note that, despite the super weapons and the bizarre dark entity, on the whole this feels more like fantasy than science fiction.

Mind you, it is still more Action film than either Fantasy or Science Fiction — and, like far too many modern action films, Interceptor will probably entertain you while the the film is still rolling, but may not leave much of an impression afterward.

Still, it’s a slick and impressive effort, and proves once again that Russia is quite capable of making films which can compete with the American product.

Although it does help when they have a better script than Interceptor has….



Check out our new Feature (Updated February 16, 2022):

The Rivets Zone:  The Best SF Movies You’ve Never Seen!



Which this time focuses on Douglas Trumbull’s Other Career

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