It's got it's flaws - but Penn's acting is superb. I wish they would have stayed a little more fully with the creation of the dictionary or the madman's attempts at redemption - trying to tell 2 major stories watered down both.
But the professional reviewers probably just hate Gibson - and they're showing they are the real closed minded ones.
It's a reminder of what Communism was really like. Not the current propaganda being spread on social media, but the horrors people really lived through and with for 70 years. Not enough of these kinds of stories are told. Ask anyone under a communist regime if they ever want to have it back - and they'll tell you stories like this for hours.
Woof - a very low budget, b-rated ghost-hunter-esq style movie. Sheffer's acting is bad - like 70's porn comically bad. He doesn't so much act as sounds like you just hanging out with an high mileage, aging Hollywood b-grade at a bar. There's also a bunch of community theater actors, and some 20-somethings trying to get their foot in the Hollywood door. The plot's flashbacks are the best acting in the show; but some will have your rolling laughing it's so bad.
Get good and stoned before watching it and it might be moderately interesting.