Remind me not to piss off a Russian mobster.
Starring Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel and Armin Mueller-Stahl. Directed by David Cronenberg.
From the moment the movie starts, you know you’re in it ‘til the end. When a Turkish barber has his son slit a man’s throat while completing a haircut within the first five minutes of the movie… yeah. You gotta know how it’s gonna play out.
Naomi Watts is Anna, a midwife of half-English/ half-Russian descent. When a 14-year-old girl collapses in a pharmacy and is taken to the hospital, Anna delivers the child while the mother dies from loss of blood. Anna discovers a diary and after a failed attempt at getting her uncle Stepan to translate it, she goes to a restaurant where owner Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) promises her that he can translate whatever she gives to him. The diary we eventually find contains information on illegal activities committed by Semyon and his son Kirill (Vincent Cassel). And Viggo Mortensen? He’s just a “driver.”
I’m not going to give away how it ends, because this movie is pure story. Cronenberg weaves a tale around characters that do their best not to give up who they are. After all, these are Russian mobsters in England. When Mortensen is “professionally dispatching” a body, he states that, “you might want to leave the room.” Cutting someone’s fingers off one-by-one, I don’t think I’d stay around for that, either.
I can’t say a lot against Cronenberg, here. I really liked, “A History of Violence,” and this is a great follow-up to that movie. Albeit a different follow-up. Mortensen is great at being a Russian mob driver (or whatever his character really is). Watts is good, too. Cronenberg does a great job at weaving a world in which you believe the characters are exactly who they are.
It’s hard calling this a movie; it’s that rare exception called film. From the moment you begin watching you’re in for an event, not a popcorn 90-minute ride.
My grade: B+. Should I be visited by the vory v zakone, A+.