Directed by David Cronenberg.
Written by Steven Knight ("Dirty
Starring Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel and Armin
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 9/22/07
Personally, I'm starting to like this David
Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen thing; after 2005's
History of Violence", their new partnership to make "Eastern
Promises" turns out to be a pretty good mob-like drama featuring
many tense moments, some of the crazily-bloody trademark Cronenberg
violence and another movie that makes you think Mortensen might be
the coolest guy to hang out with, well, ever.
Mortensen plays Nikolai, a Russian mob
driver living in London, who services the needs of a family led by a
man named Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl). Mostly, these needs
just include driving, but on occasion, they include things like, you
know, cutting fingers off of dead bodies provided by various mob
killings whenever things need to be "taken care of" by Semyon's son
Kirill (Vincent Cassel). This time, though, things are
messy--it appears that Semyon has raped a 14-year-old girl but the
girl got pregnant as a result and had the baby...and, died during
the birth. That delivery was done by a local doctor named Anna
(Naomi Watts) and after having the 14-year-old's diary translated,
gets mixed up with Semyon's family.
Watts and Mortensen are so good that just on
their merits alone, you should check out "Eastern Promises", but I
really just loved the way the film moved and the way it was shot.
The lighting, the angles, the way Nikolai looks with shades on, the
incredible fight scene in the bathhouse, the racist uncle, you name
it. The film gets a ton of mileage out of the little things,
and for that, I really enjoyed sitting through it.
Now, I will grant you that the story isn't
just familiar, it's basically commonplace save for the one change
that this is a Russian mob family, and not an Italian or American
mob family. So, watching the family break down internally
isn't exactly the most unique film story. But, the performers
are strong, so I was willing to suffer through that; the violence is
also eye-opening, but if you are going to see a film from the guy
that made "The Fly" back in '86 or "Scanners" or "Crash", you should
know coming in that some blood is gonna be shed.
Worth the trip. And, why isn't
Mortensen a bigger star?
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard