Eastern Promises (2007)

eastern promises poster 2007 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Nice smart crime thriller drama


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Eastern Promises

Studio:  Kudos Film and Television/BBC Films/Serendipity Point Films

Genre(s):  Drama/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  September 8, 2007 (Toronto International Film Festival)/September 14, 2007 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

eastern promises semyon anna violin naomi watts armin mueller stahl

An old guy who plays violin and cooks can’t be all that bad…right?

A girl named Tatiana (Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse voiced by Tatiana Maslany) comes into the hospital of Anna Khitrova (Naomi Watts) and dies giving birth.  Leaving behind her diary, Anna seeks out answers and Tatiana’s family…which leads her to the Russian mob.  Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) is the leader of a family, and Tatiana and her diary are a danger to him.  Semyon’s son Kirill (Vincent Cassel) has brought in a new employee in his driver Nikolai Luzhin (Viggo Mortensen)…but Nikolai has his own secrets.

Directed by David Cronenberg, Eastern Promises is a crime thriller drama.  Following Cronenberg’s A History of Violence in 2005, the movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was well received by critics.  The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor (Mortensen).

eastern promises spa fight viggo mortensen

When someone tries to turn a Greco-Roman wrestling fight into a knife fight…

Cronenberg’s body horror period is my favorite Cronenberg, but Cronenberg’s renaissance isn’t bad either.  He changed his style and genre and came out a stronger director…and movies like Eastern Promises shows why you should never dismiss horror or its directors.

The movie is both a tight thriller and a drama.  While there aren’t intense car chases and shootouts, the movie manages to have a building of dread throughout the film…you could argue it is almost anticlimactic, but Nikolai working undercover and rising as a crime lord to keep crime down is a dark tale…it is about a character trying to maintain balance while surrounded by vice (and deciding how much do the ends justify the means).

Viggo Mortensen is great as the cool calm and collected Nikolai who “is only a driver”.  He gives his all (literally) and isn’t afraid to play hard in one of the most intense fight scenes you’ll see…as he does it completely naked.  Naomi Watts plays the human aspect of the story with a character that seems to have some darkness herself…despite playing the good character.  Vincent Cassel is solid as the wishy-washy son trying to impress his father, and Armin Mueller Stahl is a good by the books mafia man.

eastern promises kirill vincent cassel

But Dad said too….

The movie’s highlight has to be the fight in the spa, but the whole movie looks good.  When combined with A History of Violence, Cronenberg shows he not only can handle horror, but he can also handle action…and make it gripping.

Eastern Promises is one of those movies you forget how good it is until you see it again.  It is tight and not a traditional action movie in story and themes.  The movie instead shows not all criminals are killing all the time and crimes do have consequences.  There have been talks of a follow-up to Eastern Promises (which I’d welcome) and it would be interesting to see how Nikolai is faring years later.  Cronenberg followed Eastern Promises with A Dangerous Method in 2011.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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