Let me admit up front that coming after David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen’s masterwork, A History of Violence, maybe my expectations were a bit too high, but I have to say that Eastern Promises left me a little antsy and bored.
It certainly isn’t Viggo’s fault. He’s a magnificent screen presence, nearly every second of him on screen is worth watching, and his brutal naked fight in a spa against two rival mob hoods bearing sharp hooks is almost worth the price of admission
Then again who wants to see a movie that makes you wonder how naked the Governator was in the beginning of Red Heat?
Sadly, the rest of the movie despite some grisly Cronenberg neck slashings just sits there and expects my heart to bleed over the death of a pregnant 14 year old Russian girl, who in an attempt to find a better life in England wound up impressed in the white slave trade, raped, and filled with heroin. I suppose that should make me feel something, but we really only see this girl for like 30 seconds and it’s so bloody and gruesome that I’m still trying to forget about it.
The problem is with the kingpin of this local Russian mob, Semyon, played by Armin Mueller-Stahl. He’s sort of interesting in his fake grandfatherly way, I get that he’s supposed to be pure evil, but I don’t see enough of it, there’s no final confrontation that leads to his downfall, and in the end I just never really cared that much about him, his psycho son, or the peril that they represent to Naomi Watt’s Anna or the Russian baby she is obsessed with saving.
Watch the naked fight scene online somewhere and watch A History of Violence again instead.