Eastern Promises Reviews
Enter the seedy world of, uh, London, where the Russian Mob runs the streets. Vincent Cassel plays a bumbling fuck-up mafioso, whose only saving grace is being son to a local Vor (made man, essentially) played by veteran actor Armin Mueller-Stahl. Along for the ride is Cassel's driver, muscle, and all around bad ass, Nikolai, played by Viggo Morgenstein.
Although Nikolai is the main draw of the movie, the film is rich in Russian Mafia traditions, so we're partly lead through the exposition of those ideas by "the average joe" character of Anna, played by Naomi Watts.
Anywho, Naomi Watts works at a hospital when her life gets flipped turned upside down by a 14 year old girl who dies giving birth. Watts is like "oh shit" and finds a diary and a business card on the body, and decides to investigate. She heads to the restaurant/club on the card and meets a guy who ends up being a mob boss who ends up getting pissed off about the whole thing, and sends Aragorn to off Naomi Watts' Ukranian Uncle. Following the success of the hit, and the years of loyalty within the family, Aragorn gets upgraded in status, and you get to see his cool tattoos.
The rest of the film involves Watts trying to get justice, while dealing against villains way outside of her league.
The film is notable for being one of the finest films regarding Russian criminal organizations, avoiding ridiculous stereotypes while also showing the brutality, deception, and ritual culture of the clandestine groups. The film is also known for its realism, with Aragorn's tattoos being considered so accurate that customers would weep into their pickled herring anytime he would go to a nearby Russian diner for lunch. The movie is also noteworthy for discussing the underestimated and extremely significant criminal market that is human trafficking, and the effects it has among countries, groups, and women.
All things concerning the story aside, the film is also extremely proficient technically. The acting is damn fine (especially from Morgenstein), the cinematography is gritty (matching the tone of the film perfectly), the music is haunting, and the pace of the film is so close to perfect that I don't even know how they could have made it better. Aside from that, great films have something regular films don't: memorable scenes. Eastern Promises has a lot of those, almost all of which are carried by Morgenstein, including a scene where he carefully preps a corpse for disposal, and another where he fights some dudes in a bath house with his dick flopping all over the place. Awesome.
TL;DR - 9/10
Cronenberg is solid. Motherfucker made The Fly. Although crime is not a film genre he's deeply involved in, Eastern Promises proves that the dude can do whatever he wants and make it dope. So if you're looking for a realistic crime movie about the Russian mob, with some great acting and a solid storyline, then here it is. Watch the movie. Or buy it, so that way when people come over and see it on your shelf, they'll know you mean fucking business, and they'll be weeping into their pickled herring in no time at all.
I have always been a big fan of the "tainted-hero" stories. Where the good guys and bad guys are separated by a very thin line, often times unrecognizable.