Friday, February 18, 2011

Black Lightning: A Russian Delivery Boy Fights Capitalism in a…Flying Volga

You may not know the name Timur Bekmambetov, but you would surely have seen Wanted: that over-the-top movie with Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman and that guy from Atonement. That was him.

He also made two really cool Russian language urban sci-fi / horror movies called Night Watch and Day Watch, the first of which made more money in its homeland than the first three Lord of the Rings movies put together. So when Mr. B releases a new movie, I’m there. His latest effort is Black Lightning, which is a superhero origin story. Spoilers ahead...

Dima is a university student with a problem. He has a massive crush on the new girl, Nastya, but no money and no car. His well-meaning Dad gives Dima his old Volga and encourages him to get a job. The job Dima eventually finds its delivering fresh flowers for an over-demanding boss.

Sounds pretty ordinary so far, huh? Well, get this: the Volga is a Soviet Era flying car, powered by a very unique power source that the big bad needs to power his top secret mining laser (yes, the villain in this movie is a capitalist!). The bad finds out about Dima’s Volga and his henchmen end up murdering the boy’s father. Dima responds by becoming a sort of superhero and national icon, using his flying car to save lives and fight crime.

Meanwhile, the bad guys are closing in and soon Dima is forced to fight for his life – and the lives of all of Moscow. Black Lightning is the sort of superhero movie Hollywood hardly makes any more. It’s silly, but not too silly and has the right mix of gravitas and humour to keep you humming on.

It’s not high art, but it’s well made, and the acting and special effects are what we’ve come to expect from Bekmambetov over the years. The cast is great, especially Viktor Verzhbitskiy as the villain. He’s worked with this director before, and always manages to have that slimy menace that Lex Luthor-esque movie villains so richly deserve.

The film should be readily available to rent and buy, albeit only with subtitles, and you can check out the (subbed) trailer below.

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