Here’s my review of Eastern Promises. Sorry it’s a bit disjointed: I should know better than to try and write a review while the cricket is on TV.
It’s hard to concentrate when Australia has NZ 8-69!
Movie Review – Eastern Promises
Eastern Promises is an enjoyable and well-made film – basically a Russian mafia version of the classic Godfather/Goodfellas/Casino storylines.
Director David Cronenberg and leading man Viggo Mortensen team up again after their successful combination in ‘A History of Violence’. This time Mortensen plays a mysterious and emotionless Russian hitman with a seriously sinister demeanour. His performance is characteristically professional, conveying strength and more than an undercurrent of violence.
The support cast is a bit of a mixed bag.
Armin Mueller-Stahl is brilliant as the cold and calculating ‘Godfather’ Semyon, his outwardly gentle and caring demeanour concealing an underlying sinister nature.
Australian Naomi Watts is oddly cast as an English nurse drawn unwittingly into the dangerous and violent world of the London chapter of the Russian mafia. She carries it off OK, but am I the only one who thought she perhaps would have had a slight Russian accent, given she was supposed to be the daughter of a Russian immigrant herself?
Vincent Cassel plays Kirril, Semyon’s erratic son, a character very much in the Sonny Corleone mould. Cassel’s performance is completely over-the-top and difficult to take seriously, and at times the plot suffers as a result.
As with AHOV, there are some fairly graphic and violent scenes, enough to generate a few communal groans of horror in the audience at the session I attended. Certainly a lot more confronting than your run of the mill gangster flick, but not approaching the likes of say Hostel or Saw.
The action is fast paced and the plot is reasonably solid, with a few interesting twists along the way. The whole film is set in the familiar streets of inner London, so not too much scope for interesting location shots.
Worth seeing for Mortensen’s performance alone, and for the steam-room scene if you don’t mind seeing a little claret spilled on the floor.