Cyberpunk Review » Ultraviolet

March 3, 2006


Year: 2006

Directed by: Kurt Wimmer

Written by: Kurt Wimmer

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low

Key Cast Members:

  • Violet: Milla Jovovich
  • Six: Cameron Bright
  • Garth: William Fichtner
  • Daxus: Nick Chinlund
Rating: 6 out of 10



Overview: Ultraviolet is the ultimate example of style over substance. At every juncture, the goal is to create a futuristic music video piece more than it is to convey an interesting story. That said, some of the visuals are pretty damn cool! The pacing generally tries to stay fast enough to help the viewer forget about the plot holes, and even though the overall movie is predictable, you still find yourself smiling in spite of yourself and enjoying some of the way over-the-top fight scenes.




The Story: Ultraviolet takes place in the near-future, a time where terrorism is no longer the scourge of society – now it’s viruses. The worst virus is one that turns humans into Hemophages - this virus, created in a laboratory designed to create super-soldiers, is now air-borne, and has forced the population to take extreme precautions including wearing bird-flu virus masks at all times. Hemophages have vampire-like teeth and been genetically modified, giving them enhanced speed, incredible stamina and acute intelligence. Unfortunately, with these extra-human capabilities, they need blood to replenish themselves (this is barely mentioned in the movie), and their bodies slowly wasteaway.




To the government’s dismay, more and more of the population are being transformed, and, as a civil war looms, they have set out to rid the world of this new race that they now deem menaces to society. Violet, a former nurse at the facility, ended up losing her husband and unborn child when she accidentally contracted the virus. After being a live ginea-pig for the Medical control facility (who also control the new secret police force), Violet escapes and joins the underground Hemophage resistance in attempting to overthrow the medical control police, who are led by their Arch Cardinal, Daxus (played by Nick Chinlund) – and yes, the evil Christian symbolism is in full force here.




Although Violet has entered the last stages of her sickness, she is given one more mission – to capture the Medical Control’s latest weapon from their headquarter facility and either bring it back or destroy it. After some insane action and escape sequences, Violet succeeds, but discovers that the “weapon” is in fact a small boy named “six” (Cameron Bright). This boy supposedly has genetically altered blood that, if released in the atmosphere, will wipe out all hemophages forever. Her maternal instincts kick and, and she betrays the Hemophage resistance, and is no pursued by both the resistance and the police. The only one she can turn to is her trusted friend and genetic doctor, Garth (played by William Fichtner). But the boy is dying and all options appear hopeless. Because of this, Violet (and the audience) continually says, “What am I doing?”




The Action – Gun-kata is Back! Equilibrium fans will be happy to see Gun-kata return with a vengeance. Mila Jovovich generally looks terrific doing it – better than Christian Bale (her belly, which is always visible when kicking butt is definitely CUTE!). It’s clear that Mila has trained hard for the part, and looks good on both the gun and sword fight scenes. The problem though is that an unbelievable MI:2 feeling saturates the action scenes. Mila’s powers border on supernatural, and her nazi-like opponents make the OT Storm Troopers seem like special forces! They are ALWAYS flat-out incompetent in every way possible. Additionally, even though it looks cool, there is never a reason for the sword fights which becomes all the more apparent when, literally seconds later, people come in with Uzzis and spray bullets everywhere.




The FX: The FX in Ultraviolet are truly hit or miss. It appears as if pretty much the whole movie (or vast chunks of it) has been filmed on blue-green screens. This in itself is not a problem. The problem comes in that some scenes are rendered wonderfully while others come off as half done. It’s almost as if they ran out of money during the post-production phase and had to wrap up what they had and package it as best they could. This is a shame because the shots that are completed look wonderful. The attention paid to the colors palettes in virtually every seen is extraodinary. Sometimes I caught myself staring slack-jawed in enjoyment; yet others I was almost holding my nose in disgust.




The Soundtrack: From beginning to end, Ultraviolet plays like a music video. You get awesome action mixed with high-energy soundtracks. Sometimes you get the wasping highpitched chants, similar to Gladiator or MI:2, and for other scenes, we get bass-thumping, percussive tracks which help move the action along.




The Acting: Both Jovovich and Cameron Bright are serviceable. William Fichtner is decent for the little screentime he has, but Nick Chinlund is just sour. He has a constant snear, and his performance continually serves to solidify the already one-dimensional “evil bad guy” nature of his character. But truly, Wimmer just does not give his stars much to work from. Virtually the entire story is a sequence of visuals. While Jovovich seems to excel in this mode, keeping mostly believable facial expressions for the bulk of her acting, Chinlund pretty much sucks at it, and seems to struggle in finding the appropriate demeanor.




What’s Missing? The whole front end of the story for Ultraviolet seems to have been cut, and in its place, we get a synopsis similar to what we see on TV shows recapping episodes that related to the current episode (e.g., “Previously, on Lost….”). Truly, the amount of time it took you to read my two paragraphs above on the story equals the amount of time they devoted to the front-end exposition. It looks like a good 20 minutes or so was boiled down into a 2 minute quick-cut scene to allow us to jump into the action headfirst. But by doing so (again, I’d bet money that this stuff was shot, and furthermore, that we get it on an extended DVD), Ultraviolet significantly cheapens an already weak storyline. Any depth in the characters are lost. Additionally, some of the adds, the BMW adds in particular, really are a bit too overt.




The Gadgets: As weak as the story is, some of the gadgets in Ultraviolet are just awesome! They really do add a pretty fun dimension to the movie. They include things such as:

  • Disposable Cell Phone Dispenser: I LOVE the idea of a disposable cell phone dispenser - cell phones are “wafer-thin” and bendable – you insert your credit card, and similar to a paper receipt, a cell phone sheet comes out with a certain number of minutes on it.
  • Virtual Storage: Ultraviolet also has a believable looking D&D “Bag of Holding” that can be embedded in the body. I think the idea is that Nanotechnology allows the molecules to break down into some other substance, but can be put back-together into guns and swords.
  • Multi-colored clothes: I fully expect this idea to take hold. Similar to the nano-couch in One Point O, clothes and hair in Ultraviolet can change color at will.
  • Sunglasses: Yes, Ultraviolet WILL prompt sunglasses sales – bank on it! They are the symbol for “coolness” in movies now, and ultraviolet raises the bar here by making them multifunctional.
  • HologramsThe holograms, used to making moving imitations of people, similar to those in Ghost in the Shell, are terrific. Wimmer creates some great “break-up” FX for them that really seem to add to their believability.




The Bottom Line: If you’re looking for cool style over substance, Ultraviolet is one to watch. But while some of the sequences in Ultraviolet are breathtaking, the movie as a whole is not a good one. What little story there is seems to have been lost in editing. Still, some of the visuals are pretty cool, and may be reason enough for you to go watch this. If you’re a Jovovich fan, or want to see more cool Gun-kata scenes, you will enjoy Ultraviolet. But if you’re looking for a deeply textured cyberpunk story, look elsewhere. One point extra granted for the cool gadgets.





March 17, 2006

Case said:

How about a review of AEON FLUX? The animated series, rather, preferred over the decidedly bland movie…

DannyV said:

Damn right, Case, I’m amazed no one’s done a review of the original Aeon Flux series. And does anyone have access to Phantom 2040? That was a good one, too.

March 18, 2006

SFAM said:

Hi Case and DannV - Both Aoen Fluxes are on the drawing board (check out the meatspace). I have the animated series on my desk right now in fact (um, along with about 40 other movies :) ). For instance, I haven’t done a review of Robocop yet either, but this is not an indication of its quality or my non-desire to review it. I still have a good 60 movies to go, so there’s quite a few I haven’t gotten to yet. I do love the animated series though.

Case said:

Oh, no pressure SFAM…I know you’ve got a lot on your plate. ‘Just curious if it would be covered eventually. ‘Glad to hear that it is, as FLUX has always been one of my favorite cyberpunk creations. Peter Chung’s original FLUX short is just a masterpiece in and of itself.

SFAM said:

I’m trying to average one a day on the reviews. I’ve missed a day or two (for reviews, but have done other content), but in general I’ve made up by adding some on other days. I don’t want to do all the best ones first - otherwise it would be pretty boring going through a month of 4-5 star movies.

July 10, 2006

Case said:

Finally saw this. Meh…it was better (in my opinion) than the live-action FLUX movie (as well as RESIDENT EVIL and UNDERWORLD), but…that’s not really saying a whole lot, is it? There was a moment near the beginning where I thought, “Okay, I see where they’re going with this. They’re just TRYING to make this big, ridiculous, over-the-top, preposterous comic-book-style movie.” And, for a while, it worked. It was dumb, but it worked. Then, somewhere near the mid-point, it actually had the nerve to try and start taking itself SERIOUSLY! Huge misstep on their part, because that’s where it all began falling apart for me. An overall average film, which is a shame, because it had its moments…just not enough of them. And the look of the film was interesting. Stick with Wimmer’s EQUILIBRIUM. Even that wasn’t great, but it had more going for it than this.

*Oh, and Wimmer…no more scenes where the hero of the film is surrounded by a thousand baddies and somehow manages to take them all out. I think you’ve worn out your entire career’s supply of those scenes with this one film!

July 11, 2006

SFAM said:

Hi Case, what do you think about the thought that the movie Wimmer delivered is not the movie we see on screen? The beginning especially seems horribly axed. I haven’t gotten the DVD yet, but I didn’t see anything there to indicate it was an extended version. My guess is there “is” a different version floating around somewhere - but whether this ever comes to light probably is based on the sales of the current DVD.

BTW - from that list of films you mention, I’d take Underworld as my favorite. While Shane Brolly’s character was absolutely horrid, the rest of the cast was pretty decent (great in the case of Bill Nighy), the visuals were good, and the story was at least passable.

Case said:

Well, this was Wimmer’s first time really working within the confines of the studio system, so it wouldn’t shock me even slightly that his film was taken away from him and tinkered with to the point where it was virtually unrecognizable to him. However, I find that much too often, that’s an excuse many directors use when they just realize they’ve made a bad film. ‘Just an elaborate way of whining that, “It wasn’t my fault.” Although, in several cases, I’m sure it IS, in fact, a sad truth about Hollywood.

Of the films I mentioned (I tried to just think of similar films in the piss poor category of female-lead action films), I’d be hard-pressed to pick a “favorite.” They were all pretty awful, if you ask me. UNDERWORLD just took itself far too seriously (despite having such a ridiculous concept) to be any sort of fun. I mean, essentially, we’re watching DRACULA VS. THE WOLF MAN, so why present it like it’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE (the de-facto GONE WITH THE WIND of vampire films)?

I dunno, if forced, I’d probably say RESIDENT EVIL 2…it was marginally better than the first (which, again, isn’t saying much) and it was, as one publication put it brilliantly, “shittily entertaining.” So stupid, it’s almost fun. Plus…it had zombies…and that’s never a bad thing.

SFAM said:

Hi Case, that’s probably an accurate guess about using the studio as an excuse, but in this movie’s case, the beginning sequences just really don’t seem planned to me. It plays FAR more like a flashback that was put together later by an editor raiding about 20 minutes of film to cut it down to five for time and interest reasons.

Hmm, BTW, I probably like Resident Evil 1 better than the second one - I agree neither are terrific movies (I’d probably give both a 6/10 rating if they were in any way cyberpunk). And Underworld just worked for me. I liked the mood, LOVED the scenery, loved some of the performances, and was very impressed with what they were able to accomplish with just 22 million. Plus, how can you not like the director, Len Wiseman’s story - here he goes from down and out and dirt poor, to being a successful director with an ultra hawt-chick movie actress - virtually overnight!

And um, yeah, I do LOVE the old Universal monster movies. :)

July 12, 2006

Case said:

You’re right…the movie seemed very choppy, like it had been butchered, so I don’t doubt it was messed with in those two years they had it sitting on the shelf awaiting release.

“Plus, how can you not like the director, Len Wiseman’s story - here he goes from down and out and dirt poor, to being a successful director with an ultra hawt-chick movie actress - virtually overnight!”

Well, that just makes me hate him more! ;) As far as visuals (or talent) are concerned, he’s no Alex Proyas or Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

Yeah, the old Universal horror films were the greatest!

July 13, 2006

Lexi said:

The glasses worn by ultraviolet are awesome. Does anyone know where I can get them both?

SFAM said:

Good question. Anyone know the sunglasses used?

July 31, 2006

tbunnell said:

OK where do I find her orange tinted sunglasses?

August 7, 2006

Neece said:

The sunglasses at the end of the movie are by Hugo Boss. I can’t find the ones from the beginning of the movie anywhere.

August 21, 2006

Hugo said:

It’s been released (in Australia) at long last! A bit of a disappointment really, but with some truly cool moments (and some awesome quotes :P). The best part of this movie would have to be Violet (Milla Jovovich).

I plan to watch it again and see if it’s any better second time round.

SFAM said:

Hi Hugo, I found that it still keeps its fun the second time around but doesn’t really improve a whole lot. Your first impressions are right on here.

Hugo said:

The first 40 minutes didn’t really sit well with me, but after the conversation between Violet and Six…

And you have to appreciate the costuming, the set design and some of the cityscapes; that ‘Wineglass’ tower for instance was fantastic.

September 30, 2006

Guardian Zero said:

It is a light story. I loved the action scenes, and I’m Milla’s fan.

I admired the look of the film and i liked the end.

Six stars.

November 19, 2006

Yusuke said:

It is great film. can someone please tell where this movie was film at?

Sam said:

Ultraviolet was filmed at Osaka, Japan.

January 18, 2007

ethernode said:

The story sucks, but the visuals are cool (and often unnecessary, but at least the movie is worth watching ^_^).

A cool “i don’t want to see a movie which forces me to think” movie.

January 21, 2007

me said:


January 28, 2007

LiquidSilver said:

Hey, I just wanted to comment on the bag of storage idea. In the film they call it “flat-space technology”. This makes me think that it might have to do more with clever physics than nanotechnology. Also, Garth’s lab is actually a “flat-space”, and they are able to exist within’ it. I’m still not sure what Wimmer is getting at here, but I don’t think it’s Nanotech.

SFAM said:

Hi LiquidSilver, I seem to remember Nanotech being mentioned somewhere there, but its been a bit since I’ve watched it. I do remember the flat-space technology comment though. You might be right that this is based on something other than nanotech. It really does have the feel of the “wizard’s lair” existing in another dimension we see in so many sword and sorcery stories. So perhaps the flat space technology is a similar thing, but using physics as a basis. I’ll need to watch this again now.

February 10, 2007

shelby said:

i think ultraviolet is awsome though the whole movie and all the moves are awsome too.ultraviolet ROCKSbig time.

February 14, 2007

Octavia said:

I am interested in finding out the brands of all the sunglasses “Violet” wore, especially the ultraviolet ones. Thanks.

February 16, 2007

Timegrinder said:

I always thought of the flatspace technology to be one of two things.
1) The equivalent of ‘null space’ technology, in which an item can physically take up zero space through the use of a dimensional pocket (which is literally how the ‘bag of holding’ premise was supposed to work)
2) The idea of ’spatial compression’ there is x amount of empty space in most if not everything, so it’s theorised that you could compress that object (though, not into nothing) into a smaller version of itself, like shrinking a human being into something the height of a coffee mug.

The nanotech aspects works perfectly, not that it’s turned into a different material but the original atomic layout is mapped before it is dispersed into the clothing someone wears for instance, then pulled back out. But that would result in the clothing getting bigger and still being as heavy as if they were carrying the original object.

Wasn’t there something about the hideout being detected by gravitic scanning? Or was that it was impervious to gravitic scanning?

April 17, 2007

vroman said:

re: flatspace technology.
I think they are implying the bullets and whatnot are being stored 4th dimensionally. due to totally made up physics, the “flatbox” has very small x,y and z dimensions, but has non-zero “theta” dimension, (for those who’ve studied graduate level topology…) this still doesnt explain how she doesnt experience the effects of carrying their mass. if you put the ammo in the flatbox at point A and carry the flatbox to point B and pull out the ammo, some force must have been exerted on the ammo to move it along w the box in 3d space. so even if the flatbox has infinite storage capacity while still taking up diminutive real-space, it should get heavier. considering how many drones she guns down in this movie, that would be like several crates of bullets, probably 100+ kilos. its a cool concept, but obviously requires fundamental breakthrough technology we cant even conceive of today.

April 21, 2007

Caelum said:

hahahahahahaha this movie is so stupid

watch it only after a few drinks and dubbed in a foreign language you don’t understand

April 28, 2007

randomrob said:

badly shot, bad dialogue, weird blurred closeups of Millas face, clearly underbudgeted & unfinished CGI work… a few nicely choreographed fights, but otherwise a mess. ‘Comic books look bright, plastic and cheap’ seemed to be the motif, here.

Makes Aeon Flux look like high art by comparison.

May 8, 2007

Klaw said:

This… had… a… flaming swordfight! NOT cyberpunk… a Chuck Norris movie with less hair. Mila in hot pants is the only saving grace.

@randomrob: the blurring you saw was incompetant post-production done with some dust and scratches video filter applied with very sloppy masking. You know what looks better than tons of FX done horribly? No FX.

May 9, 2007

SFAM said:

Hi Klaw, Ultraviolet is not high quality cyberpunk, but it clearly fits into the genre.

May 10, 2007

Klaw said:

Absolutely SFAM, I wasn’t critisizing your choice to include/review it. I felt that it seemed to be a poseur-cyberpunk film, in the way I feel Underworld is a poseur vampire flick. It knows all the buttons to hit, visually gets close, but it’s spirit and execution are far too serious, clichéd, and ultimately technically sloppy. It’s unfortunate really, the British television show this was based on is quite interesting… and was more about vampires than cyberpunk. A blend of cyberpunk and vampires, done well, would be cool.

May 28, 2007

randomrob said:

Underworld’s a good comparison- flat & unsympathetic characters. You can have no effects and work the characters right and have good SF.

Meh. I kept waiting for a zombie dog to start chasing her thru Umbrella headquarters…

June 23, 2007

Made in DNA said:

This movie was so crap, I couldn’t even sit through the rental DVD. 6 stars is MIGHTY generous in my opinion. More like 1.

SFAM said:

Made in DNA, have you checked out any of my 1 star movie reviews? Truly, it doesn’t belong there. Unlike some reviewers, I actually have actual meaning assigned to each of the star ratings. I see many reviewers who either go with the lowest, a medium-low rating or variants of 8-10 (depending on their scale). If you stick Ultraviolet at a 1 star rating, what do you do with the movies with truly crappy production values, truly horrid acting, and completely incoherent scripts?

That said, even though I think I made my reasons clear above, I could possibly be talked into dropping Ultraviolet down a star - not five though.

randomrob said:

6 stars for good intentions. :p

June 24, 2007

Monolithic Angel said:

6 STARS!! This movie cannot bear the 6 star mark on its forehead!!! It’s just plain idiotic and boring!!

Although you have to give Kurt Wimmer some credit, i guess it’s not that easy to put out an 88 minutes shampoo commercial.

SFAM said:

Well again, if you read the review, I basically see it as a 5 star movie, but granted it an extra star for all the fairly interesting gadgets. Some of those truly are both cool and thought provoking. The movie itself? Um, no, not great. But I will say my reviews are consistent. Good FX, action scenes and production values have to count for something. Whether you like the overall movie or not, Mila Jovovich looks good kicking ass in high FX scenes (she really does this well in most of her movies). For style over substance movies that have high-end special effects, generally they end up somewhere in the 5-6 star range. Take a look at the 5-6 star movies in the link above and you’ll see an absolute bevy of these types of movies. Then look at my 4 star reviews - you’ll see a very different set of movies there. Is this the right place to put them? I dunno - I think so. I think there’s a very large segment of the population who values great FX and action even if the story is seriously flawed. When you get seriously flawed stories, horrid acting, and no real production values, you are LOWER than a movie like Ultraviolet. Personally, I think its a waste of time to go with a 10 point scale if you don’t separate these kinds of movies out. On the flip-side, lacking a coherent story, you have to be really great in style or FX to get a 7 star rating (I, Robot comes to mind).

July 17, 2007

leonardo said:

i was cheking out violets backpack and it seemed unusual does it exist?

leonardo said:

p.s. i know you cant fit a kid in there but does the desing realy exist?

August 23, 2007

beesley said:

where can i find out the brand of sunglasses she wore?

November 9, 2007

Mordred said:

I want her phone number, I need a hero femme fatale.
The Secret Code of the Beast is Revealed…

November 10, 2007

Bullet Fiend said:

I would’ve given this movie more stars. But, then again, I don’t really think that it fits into the cyberpunk setting. I think it’s like Underworld meets Resident Evil minus the Zombies and Werewolves. Say that gives me an idea…No! mustn’t be distracted. Anyway, I liked the sword fights and the Bio-Corporation (forgot its name) Soldiers. I wouldn’t say they were flat-out incompetent, she’s just a hell of lot better (no, really?), but it would’ve really sucked if those white-clad, sword-specialist soldiers simply got shot by her. But, anyway, I suppose I liked this because it takes the whole future-meets-past-feudal-modern concept (I.E. Digimortal, various RPG’s, War-Hammer and parts of BLAME(!).

Bullet Fiend said:

Just read the other comments.

Wait a minute…Osaka, Japan…Did you even need to ask? Man I need to Japan!

January 18, 2008

Ruvelyn said:

i like this movie so much…because all its milla are so good action star….super…

jovovich….and its really ice movie…..

Ruvelyn said:

all materials that they use for this movie are very true…

March 16, 2008

Sands said:

where can i buy glasses like hers????

May 19, 2008

Adam Daub said:

The film Ultraviolet, much like being with a vain/ditzy woman, becomes dull and uniteresting after about 15 minutes of interaction.

May 26, 2008

Giovanni said:

what sunglasses is she wearing?? Thank you

July 7, 2008

Johnny said:

where do i get these glasses

September 5, 2008

Ulises Estrada y M. said:

hello! Im from mexico city, somebody tell me where i can find the glasses of this movie specially hugo boss transpers dosn´t matttter if is in US. thankU

September 16, 2008

Anonymous said:

fuck you man

July 6, 2009

downer88 said:

Not to take anything away from Japan, but the commentary by Jovovich says most of it was filmed in Hong Kong. Yea, its pretty cool most buildings and interiors in the movie are real places there.

October 18, 2009

Truth_Seeker said:

This movie is sooooo lame and illogical. It was hard for me to stand through the whole thing. Firearms appearing out of nowhere, a child being transported in a suitcase big enough for a laptop and so on.

December 29, 2009

Johnny said:

I watched this movie a few years ago on DVD; didn’t hate it, didn’t love it.
A month ago i bought a 32″ LCD-TV-Set, 1080p. Amongst others i fed the Ultra Violett-BD to it. And WOW! I could not believe, that i didn’t love this flick earlier! My brain was filled up with color, contrast, moves, speed and coool gadgets, there was no place for a deep story in my head anyway. So that worked out :-) My love for computer games may helped in liking this flick. And … omg … motorbikes driving up skyscrapers … and i can watch from the wildest, coolest angles … sigh. Simply love it.

January 16, 2010

SkuntelWaxxoN said:

Yo. You told me once that I would never get a girl to kiss my cum crank…. well, I did. That bitches name was Tchee, and she sucked the cream out of my pensil. So TAKE THAT, HARKY!

January 18, 2010

El Phantasmo said:

March 16, 2010

Cyberpunk Review » The Gene Generation said (pingback):

[…] for Quiet Earth, better late than never I suppose), The Gene Generation follows the path taken by Ultraviolet and the live-action Aeon Flux with a gun-totting, leather clad femme fatale working for the […]

September 3, 2011

Hellscion said:

My major issue with this movie was it had a few weak characters. The villain, for one. But also having the entire film center around a goddamn kid. That always screws up movies.. Think of T2 (parts of which seemed like a nerf commercial, i.e. - John Conner and the kid from Salure your shorts riding on a dirt bike while listening to guns & roses.. Rad!), or the phantom menace. Some of us, just really don’t care for, or watch movies to see, children. Lame!

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