Eastern Promises Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 5, 2014
David Cronenberg being more famous for his body horror films crafts this stunning, riveting thriller with dramatic overtones. With a brilliant cast of actors, Cronenberg does a great job at crafting a stunning picture that proves that he is able to make something other than a horror film. I thought that this film was a far superior film than A History of Violence, which I couldn't get into. The film has a very good story that is complimented by the performances of its actors, and it's a movie that is steadily paced and takes it's time for the story to unfold, therefore it's a movie that you are invested it more often than not because you are hooked at will happen next. Cronenberg's direction is immaculate and he crafts a fine picture with Eastern Promises. This is a solid film that is sure to please fans of Cronenberg's work, even if it's not a horror film, which is what he's most famous for, Eastern Promises is a taut, exciting picture that steadily unravels before you, and you simply cannot look away as it's truly an intriguing picture from start to finish. With memorable performances from its cast, especially that of Viggo Mortensen in a finely tuned performance that is menacing, cold blooded, this ranks also as one of his most intense yet. Eastern Promises is a visceral Thriller that is both brutal and beautiful in the sense that what Cronenberg has created here is simply a superb piece of cinema. If you have a taste for something different, and love David Cronenberg, then you're sure going to enjoy this film. Everything that is presented on-screen is near perfection, and it ranks among Cronenberg's most memorable films in the last few years.
Super Reviewer
June 3, 2013
A solid gangster film with some fresh (and some cliched) messages. Viggo Mortensen has an intriguingly reserved performance that added a great deal to the film's effectiveness. Definitely worth seeing, even if it lacks some of the punch that the typical gangster film delivers.
Super Reviewer
February 8, 2011
I think a tension in the atmosphere is what was missing from this flickr,still though ,due to the story line can keep you interested.
Super Reviewer
½ September 29, 2007
When a young girl dies during childbirth in a London hospital, the midwife tries to find out who she was by having her diary translated leading her to become embroiled in the affairs of the Russian mob. David Cronenberg's follow up to A History Of Violence shares a lot of common themes with it; it stars Viggo Mortensen (once again on top form), contains some brutally realistic violence and a grim and completely unsexy sex scene. The other performances are also strong, including Armin Mueller-Stahl as the Russian "Godfather" whose initial seemingly warm and familial attitude contains suitably sinister undercurrents, Vincent Cassel as his son and heir who deals with his latent homosexuality in this homophobic world with alcohol induced debauchery and Naomi Watts once again proves she is more than a pretty face as the headstrong heroine. Unfortunately the weaknesses of the previous film are also in evidence; the script contains few surprises and it lacks a strong narrative conclusion, but once again Cronenberg has created a solid and well made gangster film in which strong performances bolster the slight weakness in plot. Basically, if you liked A History Of Violence, you'll like this. If you didn't, you won't.
Super Reviewer
½ September 23, 2007
Director David Cronenberg sticks to his phase of ultra-realistic, grim violence films with this story of a ruthless Russian mob family in London. Naomi Watts plays a woman who is unaware of the threats of Mafia families and tries to solve the case of a newborn child and its death teenage mother. Viggo Mortensen once again shows his ultimate commitment to a role as the calm driver of the family, who may not be an entirely lost cause yet. The overall tone and atmosphere of the movie is very menacing, the violence comes sudden and realistically quick before all that's left is a corpse in the Thames, even though there is not much action. Still the mood and plot are enthralling and deliver quite a twist punch towards the end, even if the ultimate solution feels a tad too easy. Still, an interesting and sometimes exciting piece of work.
Super Reviewer
½ October 27, 2011
An awesome follow up to A History Of Violence, the Viggo Mortensen/David Cronenberg collaboration seems to be working well.
Super Reviewer
January 5, 2008
An interesting look at the mob and its underbelly, concerning a violent son (Vincent Cassell) of a restaraunt owner (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and his secrets threatening to become exposed by a midwife (Naomi Watts) who came across it after one of her patients died while giving birth. This movie is full of darkness and despair, and its nihilistic state grows weary on one after awhile. However, the performances are all-around outstanding, notably Viggo Mortensen as Cassell's driver. Like some Cronenberg films, it does have a big twist at its conclusion, in this case it is handled reasonably well. However, the film fails to drop the crucial dramatic punch it so desperately needs at its conclusion with one of its characters, cutting it off a little bit prematurely, and the result is a mostly impressive, but still unfinished product.
Super Reviewer
October 13, 2010
Damn, what a movie. Such great performances, except Watts actually made me cringe sometimes. Maybe I just don't like her. Viggo Mortensen and especially Cassell are stellar, Cronenberg gives great direction. This is Cronenberg's masterpiece, (so far).
Super Reviewer
February 9, 2011
Cronenberg, Viggo. I don't really need to say anything else. You should have already watched this
Super Reviewer
½ November 24, 2007
In one scene, where a naked Viggo Mortensen fights two Chechen gangsters, I could award the best actor Oscar. Some of the bravest male acting I've ever seen.

As for the rest of the film, it's high drama, slow but not lull-you-off-to-sleep-slow, paced perfectly and featuring a story that slowly builds, each little piece adding up to a stunning whole. Cronenberg has given us one hell of a story here, that plays into the noir and the gangster genres but still feels like an off-the-wall foreign film. A must-see as far as contemporary noir goes.
Super Reviewer
½ August 23, 2010
I liked it well enough and thought Viggo did an awesome job playing his character. I did feel bored, though, through most of the movie, in between the short bursts of action and plot development. While the movie does a great job with character development, it lacked the constant build-up of suspense leading to the next outburst that some dark violent dramas do so well (i.e. Inglorious Bastards).

Could be I'm just not in to mafia movies. Actually, that's probably exactly it.
Super Reviewer
May 11, 2008
I've been reading my Flixster friends' reviews of this and I'm surprised at how many have given it a low rating. The gist of the criticism seems to be that Eastern Promises is a) not a 'proper' Cronenberg movie, and b) is somewhat formulaic/predictable. In answer to the first charge, I would say that no other director has explored a single theme (body horror) so thoroughly - producing a body of work of such consistent high quality - as David Cronenberg has over the past 40 years. If the guy wanted to make nothing but romantic comedies for the remainder of his career, I would be happy for him to do so - he's earned it. As for the predictability thing, it just isn't true. One of the most effective ways of concealing a plot twist is to dangle something fairly obvious in front of the audience so that it becomes the focus of our attention, allowing the director to outflank us while we're patting ourselves on the back. This is precisely what Cronenberg is doing with Eastern Promises, which actually contains a couple of splendid, expertly concealed surprises.
The Gandiman
Super Reviewer
½ July 22, 2010
Cronenberg builds on his late career reinvention (that he started with the surprising "A History of Violence".)

Known as a master of venereal horror in his early days, Cronenberg now mixes his love for extremely graphic violence with mature and tense thrills in "Eastern Promises" - a movie that doesn't live up to his initial promise, but still delivers enough to give it a strong recommend.

Pairing up for a second consecutive time with the excellent Viggo Mortensen, "Eastern Promises" is hard to watch at times but you won't be compelled to look away. It's not great (as the pacing is too slow at times and Watts' role is a throwaway), but worth a look.
Super Reviewer
January 25, 2008
Very nicely filmed. Interesting, though got a bit confused at times with all the characters, and also not always the easiest to hear what they were saying. (Thank goodness for subtitles on the DVD!).
Super Reviewer
½ August 20, 2007
Anna: So you've read the diary. How can you keep doing what you're doing?
Nikolai Luzhin: I'm just a driver.

Director David Cronenberg teams up again with Viggo Mortensen for this well made, well acted Russian mob crime drama set in London.

There are really two stories here, which despite involving the same characters, really do not come together until nearing the end.

The first story involves a pregnant girl dying in a hospital, but not before giving birth to her child. A nurse, Anna, played by Naomi Watts, discovers a Russian diary in the pregnant girl's purse, and decides to get it translated in order to see if there is any family for the baby to go to now.

This leads her to a restaurant run by Semyon, played by Armin Mueller-Stahl. When Semyon is not managing the restaurant, he is doing his work as one of the big wheels in the Russian mob. Semyon's discovery of this diary makes him curious, while Watts only wants to find out the truth behind the dead girl's life.

Anna's plot serves as a gateway into this Russian mob life and into the other plot, which involves Semyon's son, Kirill, played by Vincent Cassel, and a driver Nikolai, played by Mortensen. After Kirill does something he shouldn't under the nose of his father, Semyon is at the point where he needs to figure out what to do with his son, how to further business by helping along Nikolai, and what to do about other characters involved in the mob.

Kirill: [about Nikolai] He is no driver, he is the undertaker.

As the stories moves on, connections between the two become more and more apparent, before reaching a well wrapped up conclusion.

Nikolai Luzhin: Anger is dangerous. It makes people do stupid things.

The main strength of the movie lies in its performances. Watts is very good as a nurse, who has had trouble in her own past in relating to this situation, involving dead girl and her child. Cassel's Kirill is a well seen slimy character, who at one point forces another character to have sex with an underage girl in front of him, to prove that he is loyal. Mueller-Stahl is quietly evil as Semyon, who does very little physically, but is very imposing just because of his demeanor.

Semyon: So, you know where I am...and now I know where you are, Anna Ivanovna.

Mortensen truly shines as the mysterious driver Nikolai. He literally gives it his all for the character, absorbed by his accent, the look of him ranging from his many tattoos, to the tiny scars like the one above his lip, bringing all sorts of mannerisms to his character for the better. He is truly great throughout, and the way the story works to develop his character is pretty amazing.

As a Cronenberg film, even as it is fairly accessible for most audiences, he still has the scenes that make this a Cronenberg film. I am referring to the brutal violence on display at times, including an amazing fight in a wash room, that is incredibly thrilling and painful to watch as one very vulnerable character does just about everything to survive. In addition, again true to Cronenberg films, Howard Shore provides a great score.

On my first viewing of this feature, I seemed to have been less involved than I was for the additional viewings. I can easily say that I really love this movie. Its very lean, getting to the point, while still maintaining a tone comparable to other, more epic in scope, crime dramas. The story is very carefully setup to reveal the why of everything very late in the game, and while its certainly interesting to observe these characters, namely Nikolai, one the film shifts into its final 30 minutes, it really fits all the puzzle pieces exactly into place.

By the end of the film, I was fully interested in seeing further installments of this film in order to see the further exploits of Mortensen's Nikolai, and the early rumors of plans for a sequel make me more than happy.

A well acted, brutal crime drama.

Nikolai: Forget any of this happened. Stay away from people like me.
Super Reviewer
November 17, 2009
A great story that really made you think. I love that Cronenberg is changing up his style every now and then and coming out with these truly emotional films. Viggo Mortensen was perfect in every way, at no point did I not believe that he was a Russian mobster (well, undercover). There was a great feel to the movie that gave it such a dark feel.
Super Reviewer
½ October 16, 2009
Eastern Promises is not a pleasant film. Imagine a darker version of A History of Violence with a heavy emphasis on the Russian mob. The plots of those two movies aren't similar, but the uncomfortable realism of them both is the common thread that binds them together. 

I don't consider myself squeamish, but Eastern Promises made me positively cringe at times. Not at any excessive violence or profanity, but because it immerses you in a story and a world that's quite possibly not very different from reality. It all seems so realistic, that it reminded me that these kind of events are the actual lives of real people out there. The quality of the acting is just that outstanding. 

I can't say that I loved watching Eastern Promises, but I can say that it was a very good movie. Quality and enjoyment don't always go hand-in-hand. I recommend it to anyone who can appreciate a grim movie about a bleak world.  
Super Reviewer
October 1, 2009
David Cronenburg back on form after the terrible History of Violence. Well acted and well shot. Thank fuck for that!
Super Reviewer
½ September 7, 2007
A gangster movie with a difference, it?s subtle, non-flashy, yet it includes all the vital ingredients and perfection of a top-notch Organised Crime film.

Viggo Mortensen was brilliant in this role, the super-cool Russian ?driver? for the son of a crime family, is slick, smart and undeniably cold. I?ve never really been blown away by Mortensen?s talents, but this role for me, showed that he can deliver an impressive performance. Cassel as always was great (and a little trivia here) took just a few weeks to learn conversational Russian for this role.

The storyline is fairly simplistic and not too ambitious as far as films in this genre usually go, yet the result is a new angle with a big impact.

This is my second viewing of this film and I was just as impressed second time around.
Super Reviewer
½ January 12, 2008
Respected and talented director David Cronenberg delivers a fascinating, cerebral, gripping, and brilliant crime drama with this film- Eastern Promises. It was refreshing to see a crime drama involving the Russian mafia (more films need to be about them). Viggo Mortenson better get AT LEAST an Oscar nomination for his protraya as a buff, tattoed, creepy, and unnvervingly seductive "driver", otherwise I'm gonna hurt someone. His acting is flawless and this is his best work to date. Naomi Watts, while not as perfect as Viggo, is still superb as a mid-wife who accidentally gets involved with the wrong people while trying to right a wrong. The movie is slowly paced, and while there is not much violence thoughout, all of the violence thatis shown is unflinchingly graphic, unapologetically brutal, and totally realistic. Bottom line, this is a fantastic movie, and deserves all the praise in the world.
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