Night Watch

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Night Watch (1995) is the sequel to Death Train (1993). Lead actors Pierce Brosnan and Alexandra Paul return as dashing UN agents, though this time they are after stolen paintings and evil microchips designed to induce “cyberspace overload”. The plot of Night Watch is muddy, convoluted and lacking in the general focus and economy of Death Train. But what Night Watch does do that Death Train didn’t is to focus on the odd-couple chemistry between the leads Brosnan and Paul.

In this respect Night Watch feels like a feature length episode of Remington Steele. The sexual tension and romantic intrigue at the heart of the relationship between Brosnan and Paul is given room to breath. So for the first two acts of Night Watch the focus is on the snooping and flirtations of Brosnan and Paul. The third act is where all the high octane action is.

It’s in act three of Night Watch that director David Jackson gets back to what he does best: action. The final act of the film has the same tight pacing and rapid cutting that made Death Train so effective. Until the finale Jackson’s direction seemed unfocused as he navigated the more character heavy portions of the movie. However, Jackson proves to be just as adept in the sequel to Death Train at making the most of his minimal made-for-television budget.

What Night Watch is missing is a real villain; a bad guy that the viewer can care about. Death Train had Christopher Lee as its villain while Night Watch has Michael Shannon. Shannon’s performance is good, he just doesn’t have the commanding screen presence of someone like Christopher Lee. Lim Kay Siu (who plays the Ted Levine part) really doesn’t come into his own as a nefarious figure until half way through the second act.

Night Watch was the last film that Pierce Brosnan made before becoming James Bond and already he has a secret agent wrist watch. Night Watch is interesting because in terms of its writing it’s much closer to Remington Steele than Bond but his character has the gadgets and girls of 007. For fans of Brosnan like myself Night Watch is a major turning point in the actor’s career that marks the end of his early days and the beginning of his middle period as Bond.