Eastern Promises

Critics Consensus

David Cronenberg triumphs again, showcasing the Viggo Mortensen's onscreen prowess in a daring performance. Bearing the trademarks of psychological drama and gritty violence, Eastern Promises is a very compelling crime story.



Total Count: 199
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Russian-born Nikolai Luzhin is a driver for one of London's most notorious organized crime families of Eastern European origin. The family itself is part of the Vory V Zakone criminal brotherhood. Headed by Semyon, whose courtly charm as the proprietor of the plush Trans-Siberian restaurant masks a cold and brutal core, the family's fortunes are tested by Semyon's volatile son and enforcer, Kirill, who is more tightly bound to Nikolai than to his own father. But Nikolai's existence is jarred once he crosses paths at Christmastime with Anna Khitrova, a midwife at a North London hospital. Anna is deeply affected by a young teenager who dies while giving birth to a baby. Anna resolves to try to trace the baby's lineage and relatives. Anna's mother Helen does not discourage her, but Anna's irascible Russian-born uncle Stepan urges caution. By delving into the diary, Anna accidentally unleashes the full fury of the Vory. With Semyon and Kirill closing ranks and Anna pressing her inquiries, Nikolai finds his loyalties divided. The family tightens its grip on him; who can, or should, he trust? Several lives--including his own--hang in the balance as a chain of murder, deceit and retribution reverberates through the darkest corners of both the family and London itself.

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Critic Reviews for Eastern Promises

All Critics (199) | Top Critics (46)

  • Despite Viggo's total gorgeousness, a nude fight-for-his-life in a steam room has all the titillation of a butcher throwing down a slab of meat.

    Feb 22, 2008 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
  • Its subtext, which is about sex and violence and the way one often dovetails with the other, and the skill of its making, render it gripping enough.

    Oct 26, 2007 | Rating: 3/5
  • There are interesting scenes, moments, ideas: but Eastern Promises does not have the sinew and boldness of Cronenberg's best work.

    Oct 26, 2007 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Accents are as thick as borscht, and vodka flows almost as freely as the blood.

    Oct 26, 2007 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • An instant cult classic.

    Oct 26, 2007 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    David Jones

    Top Critic
  • It's a role that Mortensen inhabits with great elan. With hair slicked back, a cigarette clamped in the corner of his mouth and a sardonic glint in his eye, he looks as if he's earned every inky stain.

    Oct 26, 2007 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

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