It's hard to say that "Daybreakers" wouldn't have gotten genre fans excited. A combination of Horror and Science Fiction with a future world where vampires are the majority and there is a blood shortage because the human race is almost extinct? Fuck yea! Throw on top of that cult actors like Sam Neill and Willem Dafoe to balance our lead hero Ethan Hawke? Fuck yea times two! Directed and written by the guys that gave us "Undead"? Fuck yea three times over! With all of this cult like talent and genre awesomeness how could this film not be one of the best of the year? This is actually where I think that the film ended up falling behind on itself. It was too epic...too big for its own britches and the final result just paled in comparison to the 'what could have been' for "Daybreakers".
Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is a hematologist working to find a blood substitute before the vampires that now rule the world starve and begin to transform in monstrous bat like creatures that lack the human ability to reason and control themselves. But his attempts to find a substitute continually fail (to explosive results) but a lucky break for his human empathy leads him to an underground rebel force of humans where he meets a man (Willem Dafoe) that was a vampire until an accident turned him human again. Now Dalton is on the verge of a break through to cure the vampire disease from society as a major corporation of blood suppliers headed by Bromley (Sam Neill) threatens to put an end to all of it.
Honestly, the film is still quite a bit of fun. The Spierig Brothers know how to make things exciting visually great. That and its obvious that the concept of "Daybreakers" is pretty fucking cool, but this is where most of the film's issues come to surface. Despite a solid cast, great concept, and visual flair, "Daybreakers" feels like a somewhat hollow film. The fun and borderline cheese of the film undermines its darker and more epic tones. To keep its pacing and entertaining vibe, the film sacrifices a lot of great moments to delve into the seriousness of the film. The political satire and corporate commentary is seriously lacking despite its subtle attempts to go there, and its quick moving speed pulls away from the story to focus on the 'that's awesome!' moments like the feeding frenzy at the end or the explosive ambush on the human caravan.
The film also lends itself to suckle on that sweet visual style a bit too much and just assumes that the cool concept can carry the film, which ironcally is able to happen most of the time. Too bad its not ALL the time instead of most of the time. Our characters massively suffer from lack of any kind of emotional connection to the audience due to quick and surface value development. The only character that you really feel anything for is the villain Bromley with his small father/daughter subplot and that feeling just can't compare to what we should have been feeling for Edward or even Cormac (Dafoe).
So take "Daybreakers" for what it is, a fun fast paced vampire romp that wants to seem smarter than it is. On this level it works nicely, but with as many places as the plot wanted to go and the characters should have, it just comes off as more of a disappointment rather than the rave reviews that it has been getting.
BONUS RANT: I love how damn good the humans are at shooting their crossbows. They only missed the heart when it was convenient for plot. You shot the larger characters in the shoulder or arm at three feet away but could nail a running vampire in the dark at 50 yards? I know it lends to nice visuals but come on...don't play me like an idiot.
Written By Matt Reifschneider
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