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Eastern Promises review

Posted : 1 year, 2 months ago on 7 June 2013 04:08

This is a very good Mafia Thriller film, I really enjoyed watching it. The movie stars Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel and Armin Mueller-Stahl, the actors did a fantastic job but Viggo and Vincent did a fantastic job. Vigo plays Nikolai who runs into Anna, who has just delevierd a baby to a dead girl, and is trying to track down the father. What Anna ends up doing is steping into the Russian Mafia, and with Nikolais help they help each other find the truth. This is a excellent movie, You have a very good story, acting and a very good movie. If you like a good Mafia movie, Eastern Promises is a brilliant movie to watch.

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Eastern Promises review

Posted : 2 years, 9 months ago on 1 December 2011 11:55

Expensive cars, sadistic acts of violence, stylish suits & superb acting is what makes David Cronenberg's Russian-mob movie, Eastern Promises, a modern-classic. Better than A History Of Violence, a film on the same vein but not better than his bizarre-cult Videodrome and the sci-fi great The Fly.

Anyways, this film reminded me of GTA: San Andreas in some areas and I swear, the whole movie looks like a typical mission from the game. Hey, this is Russian-Turkish mobs we're talking about, with lotsa killings.

We're quickly thrown into the ruff-and-tuff world of rats-and-gangsters with the opening slitting scene. From there, the violence just snowballs with Naomi Watts in the lead as a nurse with some issues at home and her life. In this sans-Hurt & sans-Harris movie, Viggo Mortensen really gave a top-notch acting as the soft spoken Nikolai, the driver and even though I haven't seen much of his material, Vincent Cassel gave a convincing performance too as Kirill. I will keep an eye out for him in other movies. The big, hulking Armin Mueller-Stahl has a ominous aura around him and his presence just scares the shit out of you. I mean, when a man of his size appears onscreen, you expect them to pick up the other guy and strangle them to death with just their bare hands. Also, like any other Cronenberg movie, this one also has a keen focus on details and things.

Overall, this has become one of my favourite movie at the moment and yes, a rewatch is required and I gotta tell you, If you are not a major fan of History Of Violence or are not exposed to Cronenberg much, you may find this boring and long. I found it entertaining and very realistic but this is a major fan talking here and to me this was better than History Of Violence. If you are not a fan of slitting or cutting scenes, then pass this one off as you won't be missing much but fans who have seen his other 'non-realistic' movies will find this one better. Well, whether you like or not, I'm including it in my greatest movies list!

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До свидания

Posted : 3 years, 3 months ago on 25 May 2011 08:19

I watched the movie back when it was just coming out but didn't like it too much because I was a little confused to what I was going on but I blame myself because I probable wasn't paying attention. After watching it again, I shouldn't been such a idiot because it was a excellent movie.

Naomi Watts plays Anna Khitrova, a British midwife, who comes across a diary from a girl who dies in childbirth. Trying to get the diary translated to find any relatives for the baby, Anna finds her way to a Russian restaurant that is run by one of the London's Russian mafia bosses and gets in deep trouble as she finds out what the diary entails.
On the other side of the story is Nikolai Luzhin, played by Viggo Mortensen, who is the mafia family's driver and "cleaner" and is wanting to get into the family's more devious business. When Nikolai meets Anna he tries to keep her and the baby safe while trying to keep his true intentions secret from the family.

Viggo Mortensen's role as Nikolai is a sigh to behold. I mean if it weren't for his other roles in films I would have sworn that Mortensen was Russian and a former Russian mobster.
Everyone else on the cast plays their characters wonderfully except for maybe Vincent Cassel but that might be because I know he's French and can't get pass that.
I'm a fan of traditional music from other countries including Russia and some of those are present in the film which give the soundtrack some character as the rest of the film is pretty standard symphonic music that compliments the senses well but aren't truly memorable outside of the movie.

David Cronenberg's films are pretty hit or miss for me but Eastern Promises will always be one of his best films and Mortensen's portrayal will stick with me for a long time.

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A very good movie

Posted : 3 years, 4 months ago on 23 April 2011 10:56

It is after watching this for the second time that I truelly enjoyed it. Vincent Cassell was pretty good but Viggo Mortensen was just amazing. It is probably his best perfomance until now. The story was interesting enough and kept me on the edge of my seat until the end and the directing, as usual with Cronenberg, was very good. Definitely worth a look.

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Promised but didn't deliver.

Posted : 5 years, 8 months ago on 27 December 2008 01:34

The recent David Cronenberg/Viggo Mortensen partnership has spawned two films and Eastern Promises is the one I saw first. It was really a case of not having any solid expectations, but literally thinking that a disappointment was not mathematically possible from this director/actor combination. I was very surprised how lowly I had to rate this film at the end.

Eastern Promises is a rare cinematic look at the Russian mob involvement in London. After the tragic death of a 14-year-old prostitute during childbirth, the midwife attending, Anna (Naomi Watts), finds a diary amongst her personal effects. Seeking to translate the Russian scribbles, she approaches the owner of a Trans-Siberian restaurant, the address of which she also finds in the diary. At first charming, the restaurant owner agrees to help the midwife, though her uncle (conveniently Russian/Eastern European) urges caution and inexplicably bombards her with verbal abuse when she approaches him for help.

During her visits to the restaurant, Anna attracts the unwanted attention of another Russian, Nikolai, (Viggo Mortensen) a driver for the family that own the restaurant. Mortensen's performance throughout the film is a highlight, conveying a realistic detachment and unflappable persona whilst conveying his duties as both a professional driver and seedy undertaker who deals with the more morbid aspects of body disposal for the Russian crime family. It is rapidly revealed that the restaurateur is actually the head of the vory v zakone crime syndicate and his charming demeanour dissolves when he ruthlessly threatens Anna with violence if she continues to follow up her interest in the diary (which implicates members of his family in the young prostitute's illegal trafficking, pregnancy and ultimately, death).

A sub plot follows Nikolai and his ongoing induction into the upper echelons of the vory v zakone. He is the unofficial bodyguard of Kiril (Vincent Cassell), the reckless and petulant son of the restaurant owner. Nikolai is eventually granted the honour of full induction into the syndicate (via the addition of star tattoos) in a prestigious ceremony.

A positive aspect for this film, apart from the performance of Viggo Mortensen in general, is that a completely unpredictable twist still managed to catch me off guard. However, the rest of the film didn't provide anything profound enough to call it a favourite. Again, little time is spent on any character development, meaning we only really get to know a little bit about Nikolai's personality. Vincent Cassell (as much as I dislike him) is a competent actor, who I felt was underutilised throughout the whole film. Naomi Watts grated on me from the get-go with a London accent that flushed my cheeks with embarrassment whenever I heard her talk. I just don't think I've heard any resident of The Big Smoke speak with such an unnatural accent, and framed against the impressive Mortensen and his realistic Eastern drawl makes it even more difficult to wonder how she got away with it.

The film, like A History of Violence, will be predominantly remembered for one single scene of realistic and astonishing violence, only this time Viggo is naked during the brawl for some extra shock value. Ultimately the ending feels kind of ambiguous and completely unfulfilling as Cronenberg once again bends over backwards to make it all fit into a short 90ish minute timespan. At the end, I was disappointed.

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Another winner from Cronenberg!

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 29 September 2008 01:54

"It's always good to have someone who I can trust, to do simple tasks. In this business, sometimes the biggest danger comes from the most stupid things."

Eastern Promises denotes the second of consecutive films featuring the creative partnership of director David Cronenberg and actor Viggo Mortensen. Cronenberg is no stranger to controversy due to his unique filmography. Crash, The Fly, Videodrome and the recent A History of Violence are just a few entries on Cronenberg's résumé. Each new film further demonstrates the director's willingness to display graphic violence and/or nudity. Following the critical and commercial success of A History of Violence, Cronenberg returns with Eastern Promises: this dark, gripping, powerful crime thriller. This film tackles the subject of the Russian mob and their presence in London. Mainstream films seldom explore this territory. Filmmaker Martin Scorsese has explored the Italian mafia in films such as GoodFellas, and the Irish mob in the acclaimed The Departed. Movies addressing the Russian mob are few and far between. Therefore, this is an amazing entry to Cronenberg's oeuvre.

British screenwriter Steven Knight previously penned the script for Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things; a similar film that deeply delved into the underbelly of modern multicultural London. His screenplay for Cronenberg's Eastern Promises lifts the curtain on different sects and subcultures of society. This film depicts a number of contemporary social issues such as human trafficking, teenage prostitution (and teenage pregnancy, for that matter) and loss of cultural identity. The script conveys a powerfully affecting tale that relentlessly illustrates the depressing nature of its subject matter and the disconsolate atmosphere of its key location.

A 14-year-old Russian girl named Tatiana (Labrosse) stumbles into a pharmacy, heavily pregnant and haemorrhaging blood. She's brought into a hospital where midwife Anna Khitrova (Watts) steps into the equation. She delivers a healthy baby girl, but is unable to save the teenage mother who dies during childbirth. Anna discovers Tatiana's personal diary and believes it could provide answers to Tatiana's past. Anna lifts the diary from Tatiana's handbag and commences her investigation. The diary is in Russian; ergo she is unable to decipher it. The issue of losing cultural identity is evident here: Anna's parents are Russian, yet she was born and raised in the United Kingdom.
Anna takes the diary to a local eatery where she meets Semyon (Mueller-Stahl), a seemingly kind old man. Little does Anna realise that Semyon is the head of a powerful Russian crime family who utilise the eatery as a cover-up for their true intentions. As soon as Semyon hears of the diary, he realises that it incriminates his whole family and organisation as it chronicles the troubled life of a teenage girl who became inadvertently mixed up in the unsavoury world of enforced prostitution, drugs and murder. Anna's investigation leads her to Nikolai Luzhin (Mortensen) who works as a driver for the Russian mob organisation. Nikolai is eventually hired as a henchman for the Russian mob, and puts in motion a harrowing chain of murder, deceit and retribution.

Eastern Promises is permeated with competent filmmaking in several aspects. Cronenberg is right at home handling material that includes graphic throat-slitting, a haunting sex scene and even one of the greatest fight scenes in recent memory. This fight scene depicts a completely nude Viggo Mortensen (yes...we see all of it!) being attacked by two assailants in a steam room. The action is fast and it is very violent, featuring plenty of blood and gore. The sequence is visceral, violent and realistic, but above all engaging and serves a purpose. If someone such as Eli Roth was responsible for the scene it would've been far less poetic as it'd be a useless slice of gore porn. With Cronenberg at the helm, he meticulously frames his shots and ensures the scene is an imperative part of the story. The scene is significant as it shows Nikolai in a vulnerable position, forced to employ his skills as a ruthless assassin. Despite Nikolai being developed as a strong and almost indestructible character, this scene demonstrates that he's a regular human who can bleed and succumb to injury.

The script commendably handles the story. Dialogue is ponderous but fascinating, and violence is fairly frequent but concise. However, occasionally the script is somewhat formulaic and plays it safe. There's also an unfortunate failure to tell multiple storylines effectively. In a compact running time of 100 minutes, the script jumps from one story to the other. There's too much going on. Yet despite this, there are enough shocking plot twists and revelations to transcend its weaker trappings. The only other script flaw that can't be forgiven is the ending: it's too sudden and the intricately-developed characters are abruptly plonked into an unsatisfying, rushed conclusion that contrasts the carefully-paced events preceding it. This terrible ending encompasses countless loose ends and hasty jumps that don't make a lick of sense.

Viggo Mortensen was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Nikolai Luzhin. This nomination was thoroughly deserved. Viggo underwent extensive preparation for the role: studied the culture, learned his lines in different languages, etc. This work pays off wonderfully. He will allow you to genuinely believe he's Russian due to the convincing accent. He immerses himself into the role with marvellous consequences. However the film's greatest asset (as in Viggo) is also its greatest curse: whenever Viggo isn't present in the frame, the film seems to lack momentum. The rest of the cast is good, but vastly overshadowed by Viggo's faultless performance.
Naomi Watts is undoubtedly among the finest actresses working today. Watts further verifies her amazing ability to bring something substantial to the table. Whether it's a comedy (I Heart Huckabees), a blockbuster (King Kong), or a gritty film like or 21 Grams or the film in question (Eastern Promises), Watts rarely strikes a false note. Her character here is an interesting one: she feels compelled to find the newborn baby's true home as she recently suffered a miscarriage and a failed relationship. The internal pain and anguish is perfectly conveyed by Watts.
It's worth noting that the film's three Russian protagonists aren't played by Russian actors. The impeccable Armin Mueller-Stahl is German, the menacing Vincent Cassel is French, and the absolutely incredible Viggo Mortensen is of Danish descent. While watching the film I had no idea of this fact. While I knew Mortensen wasn't Russian due to my familiarity with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I had no idea of the respective nationalities of Mueller-Stahl and Cassel.

David Cronenberg's previous film, A History of Violence, was one of my favourite films of 2005. With that single film the director demonstrated that, despite having aged, he was still capable of producing terrific results. A History of Violence was a deep character study and an exhilarating thriller.
Eastern Promises has its problems in the script department, yet it's definitely among the greatest films of 2007. Those searching for a coherent or satisfying conclusion will be soundly disappointed, but that's merely a minor drawback that doesn't severely affect the terrific filmmaking before it. On the whole the film is competently directed by Cronenberg, with admirable photography and an amazing bunch of actors, that's topped off wonderfully with Howard Shore's remarkable music. Artistic, masterful, provocative and audacious, Eastern Promises is a captivating and fascinating examination of a sinister and dark world.


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Another Cronenberg gem

Posted : 6 years, 11 months ago on 30 September 2007 12:59

I really liked his last movie "A History of Violence" and was looking forward to this movie especially when Mortenson signed on again to lead. I wasn't disappointed and had a really great night out. (It was a pretty good birthday present to myself.)

One of the reasons I wanted to watch it was because of an article I read about the tatoos that were on the characters. Apparently in the Russian mafia your life history is inked into your body. Reading that article made a connection to the characters that I wouldn't have had and an understanding of the importance of the tatoos that Mortenson gets in the movie.

The twist in the movie wasn't really that much of surprise if you are paying attention. It doesn't take away from the excellent acting and a very good story. I love watching movies that are driven by a story and not a huge special effects budget. If you love this kind of a movie, you don't want to miss Eastern Promises.


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Unexpected Greatness

Posted : 6 years, 11 months ago on 29 September 2007 10:17

I haven't written a review in a while, but felt compelled to for Eastern Promises, a film I had no knowledge about before heading into the theater last night. In fact, the only reason my girlfriend and I watched it last night was because the theater complex was being renovated and only had 3 movies playing on a Friday night! After the first half hour, I noticed the big named stars, Viggo Mortensen as a convincing Russian driver/gangster speaking in a perfect accent. Cue in Naomi Watts in another solid, though not particularly spectacular portrayal as a concerned hospital worker trying to figure out the story behind a raped girl's sudden death.

If you've read anything about this movie so far, you'll probably read that it has a twist at the end that left some viewers confused or even upset. To me, the twist was minimal to the storyline and really had no impact to me as far as how I viewed the first three-quarters of the film. I could deal with or without it since I really felt like the movie would be great regardless.

Another small tidbit I realized after the film was over was that David Cronenberg directed. His last film, A History of Violence, left a real bad taste in my mouth and I couldn't understand why so many critics raved about how great it was. Eastern Promises, however lived up to any preconceived expectations and I'll certainly recommend this film to any fan of a good crime drama.

Comparison: The Departed with better acting and one of the most memorable fight scenes in film history.

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