David Cronenberg’s follow up to History of Violence also stars Viggo Mortensen and is just as good, if not better than, that excellent film from two years ago.
The opening scenes set up the cruxes of the story, an ill advised hit as well as the birth of a baby girl and the death of her mother. The movie follows the circumstances of these two events as the film moves along at a brisk and gripping pace that entertains throughout.
Naomi Watts also stars as the mid-wife for baby Christine as Watts tries to find the home village of her mother to avoid her being put into the foster care system. To do this she must translate the diary that is in Russian, luckily her Uncle is able to help but she also enlists the owner of a restaurant, Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), whose card she found in the Diary.
This is where Viggo comes in, as the “driver” for Vincent Cassel’s character Kirill. Kirill is the son of the restaurant owner helping out Watts and we quickly discover that he is involved with some sketchy bits of crime. From here, the story grows and we learn more and more as things unravel for everyone involved and they are all at risk. To spoil more would be a disservice to you viewers so I will say no more, but just know that the story is one of the most gripping caught on screen this year.
Viggo is fantastic as Nikolai the cool and collected Russian mob bad ass, with a bit of charm and the ability to impress most of those he encounters. His accent is spot on and he has created one of the better characters of 07, a performance not to be missed.
Vincent Cassel is also great as the pompous daddy’s boy that tries to be a hard ass, and thinks he is hot shit, but might not be exactly what he seems. Armin Mueller-Stahl is also quietly powerful thorough out and is clearly not someone to be trifled with.
Watts also turns in some good work, though she wavers occasionally towards the end, she more then sells the concerned mother figure for the story.
Also, one last thing to mention, the fight in the finale is of the most intense pieces of cinema in a while.
When it’s all said and done, Eastern Promises is one of the better crime movies in recent years and should not be missed by fans of the genre or Viggo Mortensen. Check this one out sooner rather than later, it will not disappoint.