Eastern Promises - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Eastern Promises Reviews

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April 21, 2017
I Only Like Violence, Swearing, Sex And Nudity Just Only In R-Rated Movies.
April 12, 2017
Cronenberg and Mortensen make another tremendous film together, once again concerned with muddied character motivations and shifting identities.

The quick bursts of brutal violence punctuate long bits of character development, with Mortensen looming large over the film, exuding menace just by standing there with a half-smile playing about his lips.

Highly recommended.
Super Reviewer
March 31, 2017
With A History of Violence in 2005, David Cronenberg seemed to take his career in a more mainstream direction. It wasn't the horror or dark science fiction that many had come to know him by, but an arresting thriller that was actually based on a graphic novel. It was a big success and, two years later, led to Cronenberg sticking with his leading man Viggo Mortensen and attempting something similar with Eastern Promises. You could say that their second collaboration delivers something even more satisfying.

Plot: Deeply affected by the death of a Russian teenager in childbirth, nurse Anna (Naomi Watts) takes it upon herself to find her family and save the baby from foster care. With access to the girl's diary, Anna is led to Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), the owner of a Trans-Siberian restaurant. Semyon isn't the endearing character that he makes out, however, and the closer Anna gets to the girls story, the closer she gets to the enigmatic 'driver' Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen) and the bloody underworld of the Russian Mafia.

When you think of a mob movie, your memory will most likely be jogged to the glamorously brutal Italian American variety. The obvious ones being the exemplary work of Scorsese's Goodfellas or Coppola's The Godfather. You may even consider the violent Cuban's of DePalma's Scarface and the Puerto Rican's of Carlito's Way or perhaps the Irish goons from The Coen brothers Miller's Crossing. With Eastern Promises, though, Cronenberg decides to focus on the Russian mafia operating from a restaurant in the drab, Hackney borough of London. Although it mines the same well as some of the aforementioned films, it feels like a fresh take on the mob movie, primarily because it's an ethnic group of mobsters that don't often get attention.

Steven Knight's screenplay focuses on the murky world of people trafficking while exploring the tradition and initiation of Russian criminal codes. The gangsters of this story have to earn their positions and their stripes which are represented in tattoo form and by doing so, brings forth an genuine air of mystery and intrigue to the characters. This is the master stoke of the film. And Cronenberg knows it. He's not overly concerned with the plot itself. Sure, it plays out with a good degree of tension and more than holds your interest but the real draw here is what we don't see. It's the machinations of this criminal underworld and their untold code of ethics that intrigues the most. This is exemplified with some great performances; Naomi Watts delivers the perfect bewilderment of a women out of her depth and while I'm a huge fan of Vincent Cassel - and his loose-cannon, Kirill, gets a substantial amount to do here - even he isn't the standout. It's the unnerving work of Armin Mueller-Stahl who brings real gravitas as Semyon, the patriarchal head of the family and the quietly affecting, yet very intimidating, Viggo Mortensen who own this film. When we speak of mystery and intrigue, Mortensen's loyal driver Nikolai is the epitome of it. It's an absolutely captivating performance which rightly gained him his first (and long overdue) Oscar nomination with his involvement in a steam-room brawl worth the nomination alone.

Where the film is slightly let down is in its rushed denouement. For the most part, it revels in a particular pace, but when it's drawing to a close it feels muddled and determined to finish within a particular running time. Up until then, however, it's a brutal and punishing crime yarn that hits many a strong note and breathes new life into the mob film.

A viceral, stylish and compelling story that benefits greatly from masterful acting. It's arguably both Cronenberg and Mortensen's finest work. This Eastern themed film keeps good on its Promises.

Mark Walker
March 28, 2017
"Estern Promises" is a great drama that inspires and is suspenseful to the very end. Viggo Mortensen delivers one of his best performances, right after "Captain Fantastic", and has a great chemistry with Naomi Watts and delivers a great Russian accent. The latter delivers a great performance as well and makes the viewer feel for her. The thing that most surprised me was the very authentic Russian accent by Vincent Cassel who as a Frenchman has an accent anyway but his performance is just brilliant. The story is great and is laid out in brilliant way. The movie jumps right into action in the opening sequence and then makes the viewer curious for more within the first ten minutes. A refreshing change here is that this movie is not predictable but has many twists and revelation that are very unexpected. Cronenberg portrays his characters here in an unconventional fashion but it is exactly that what makes them and the movie so interesting and intriguing. He builds up the story gradually and as the movie progresses the story unfolds in a very exciting and suspenseful way. With many medium shots and close ups the cinematography helps the viewer take in all the emotions and feelings that the characters show. In this movie facial expression often say more than words and that is exactly what the camera catches and what makes this movie so intense. All in all we can say that this is an amazing drama where all the elements fit together and where suspense is present form begging to end.
March 11, 2017
If we are talking about my favorite Cronenberg film, I would choose "A History of Violence" or "The Fly" over "Eastern Promises". I find those two emotionally engaging and infinitely rewatchable. However, if we are talking about the best Cronenberg film, I would gladly say it is "Eastern Promises". It's complex, intelligent, and a very compelling film about identity. This is Mortensen's best performance to date and Cronenberg's most complex film. I loved it.
½ March 11, 2017
A new kind of mafia film, "Eastern Promises" struck me as a Russian version of "The Godfather" with a fittingly grim nature.
February 18, 2017
Fucking exciting, but also incredible brutal...
January 23, 2017
Eastern Promises features director David Cronenberg's trademark raw violence allied with Viggo Mortensen's strong lead performance and the result is a gritty and haunting crime drama.
January 18, 2017
I didn't really enjoy this movie or the story, but, thought it was ok overall
January 11, 2017
The plot lacks substance and surprises only towards the end.
Stunning, though, is Cronenberg's ability to make you perceive the creepiness of Mafia's amoral familism
December 8, 2016
David Cronenberg weaves this tale of the Russian mob and a nurse who becomes slightly entwined with them when she attempts to discover the identity and family of a young 14 year old girl who died giving birth, in order to find a proper home for the child. This leads us to the story of the Driver of this mob, Nicolai Luzhin, and his attempt to rise in the ranks there. It is a great story well weaved, and features one of the best action fight scenes I have ever seen (with Viggo Mortensen entirely nude in a bath house for the entirety of it). It is a fine picture, with a great cast and a good story.
November 29, 2016
Good story not quite as good as History.
½ November 21, 2016
"Okay now I'm gonna cut off his fingers and remove his teeth. You might want to leave the room."
½ November 9, 2016
Simple story, tragic Russian accents and a terrible over-acted performance from Vincent Cassel. The much hyped Sauna-scene was very cool, but couldnt save this one....I expected a lot more from this flick!
October 15, 2016
Well done and intense but it all adds up to a big "so what".
October 10, 2016
While having some credibility issues and some ostentatious aspects, Eastern Promises stays above water by taking the best from an incredible Viggo Mortensen and surprises with its thoughtfulness and emotional depth.
October 4, 2016
Eastern Promises is a refreshingly calm, well shot, unconventional gangster thriller with (for Cronenberg standards) little, but explicit, raw violence (with one scene in particular involving a naked Viggo Mortensen being one of the best and most visceral fight scenes put to film), a quietly effective score and great performances, especially by Mortensen. Its intriguing discussion of classic Cronenbergian themes- body, identity and community- within a character-driven story is only hindered by the comparatively uninteresting story-part surrounding Anna and a few other writing flaws, especially in its final 30 seconds.
½ September 24, 2016
Great crime drama that deals with some serious issues and some really great performances and a wonderful script. Cronenberg is 100% one of the best directors around
½ September 22, 2016
A very new-age Godfather-ish vibe to it. Viggo Mortensen pulls off the role with plenty of grace and manages to pull you into the story instantly. The levels of brutality make this unsuitable for the faint-hearted, but a good movie nonetheless if you're capable of powering through the gore scenes.
½ September 13, 2016
A really boring and unsettling movie, I didn't like at all.
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