Eastern Promises

four stars out of fiveSome tour-de-force performances from a strong cast make this a very watchable thriller, in spite of a few patchy plot moments and the negative portrayal of Eastern Europeans and Turks. Unfortunately, in the many multi-lingual scenes, I often found myself thinking about the technical skill that must have gone into making the dialogue appear naturalistic, which created a certain distance from the storyline. I believe that a lot of effort went into distinguishing between the various dialects (see the extra features) but that was a subtlety totally lost on me.
Viggo Mortensen gives, as usual, a fully-committed performance of really breathtaking intensity (the bathhouse fight scene is extraordinary). Vincent Cassel – one of my favourite actors – also deserves honourable mention as the psychotic Kirill. Armin Mueller-Stahl adds to the pantheon of charming but ruthless gang bosses, a fact to which Naomi Watt’s character, Anna, seems pretty oblivious, despite numerous heavy hints early on – I mean, has she never seen the Godfather, Goodfellas, etc. really?

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