Movie Reviews

bellview--i love movies

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

Movie Awards
2004 Roundup
2005 Roundup
2006 Roundup
2007 Roundup
2008 Roundup
2009 Roundup


"Eastern Promises"

Directed by David Cronenberg.
Written by Steven Knight ("Dirty Pretty Things").
Starring Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel and Armin Mueller-Stahl.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  9/22/07


Personally, I'm starting to like this David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen thing; after 2005's "A 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


Comments?  Drop me a line at


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 "Office Space"). 

"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, 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 half stars." 

"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 Vice"-rated movies.)

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09