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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Daybreakers (2010)

Daybreakers is an interesting entry into the vampire genre, basically throwing up its hands in the face of the recent rash of vampire films and TV shows and saying, "Fine. Vampires… you win. You can have the world, but good luck figuring out how to survive after you kill all the humans and run out of blood."

It's 2019, vampires are in control of everything, and the remaining humans not being farmed for their blood are on the run and in hiding. Using corporate greed vs. the betterment of society as its catalyst Daybreakers offers some interesting concepts, but is only satisfying on the most basic of levels. Primarily due to the fact its concept doesn't far enough and all the surprises are pretty much telegraphed throughout the picture.

The story follows Ethan Hawke, playing a vampire blood doctor working for the world's largest blood supplier, and as the amount of human blood remaining is on the decline he and his team have been charged with developing a synthetic blood to ensure the vampires' survival. ("True Blood" anyone?) As it turns out, a lack of regular blood causes normal vampires to turn into gruesomely deformed beasties. As things become dire, Hawke joins forces with a group of humans who claim to have a cure for the vampire virus, which means instead of causing the extinction of the human race and relying on synthetic blood, vampirism can be eliminated altogether.

I'm a fan of Hawke and I think he is always watchable, whether it's in one of my personal all-time favorites Before Sunset, the Oscar-winning Training Day or even the remake of Assault on Precinct 13, which itself is similar to the B-movie fare we have here with Daybreakers. He's a cool cat and he plays his characters well, rarely stepping into that region of over-acting.

Daybreakers also gets a great performance out of Sam Neill playing corporate head-honcho Charles Bromley, an upper crust-vampire you may find turning the pages of "Cigar Aficionado" and he fills the shoes perfectly. However, the best casting may have been the decision to bring in Willem Dafoe and not cast him as a vampire. I hear vampire movie and Willem Dafoe and I automatically think he'll be the big dog leading some pack of vampires to destroy any and all humans in his way. No sir. Instead he plays a member of the human resistance who goes by the nickname Elvis. It's a pleasure watching the old dog work.