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Movie Review: Eastern Promises

Alternate Title: The Russians are Coming!

Story: The Russians are coming and this time they are not as lovable as that gang who hit the Cape Cod shore back in 1966.

Director David Cronenberg's latest work is disappointing on many levels. It is uber-violent to the point of being distracting to the main story line (however slim). The threat of violence is omnipresent. The streets of London seemed safer with Jack the Ripper than with this gang of Russian and Chechen hoods.

Writer Steve Knight (Dirty, Pretty Things, Amazing Grace) should leave this film off of his resume. The simple plot involves a hospital midwife's discovery of a diary on the body of a dead, pregnant 14 year old. She wants to get the diary translated so she can find out if the infant has any living relatives. Enter the Russian mob, replete with throat cuttings, scarification, shootings, knife attacks and general mayhem in order to maintain their control of sex slaves, drugs, thievery and destruction.

Are there any redeeming qualities to the film? Viggo Mortenson is terrific as one of the Russian hoods. We get to see him naked in a fight scene. Sadly the scene is so violent I had to close my eyes through most of it. Bummer.

Acting: Viggo Mortensen as already noted is terrific. It is just too bad that this film stinks. Naomi Watts as the annoying obsessed nurse looking for answers in all the wrong places has done much better work elsewhere. Vincent Cassel as the heir apparent to the mob is perfectly creepy. Armin Mueller-Stahl as the Russian boss is always good.

Predilection: I like Viggo Mortenson and I liked a History of Violence, the other film that Cronenberg and Mortenson did together.

Critters: Too violent for critters.

Food: Lots of food to feast your eyes upon. The Russian mob boss has a Russian Tea Room type restaurant as a legitimate front for his wrong doings. We get to see some wonderful Russian banquet dishes including a tasting of borscht. We also get to see, ham, hamburgers, french fries and green beans.

Sex Spectrum: Male nudity and some boobs. There is a sex scene with Viggo and one of the sex slaves but it is anything but sensual.

Soundtrack: Creepy

Opening Titles: Black background and white type.

Visual Art: Most of the film is dark so it was hard to see lots of details.

Theater Audience: Pretty crowded for a Sunday afternoon. There were audible gasps from the violence and an occasional laugh as well (I found that part creepy).

Weather: The weather was pretty good for London.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 5 - I squirmed a lot from the violence. The opening scene starts with a botched throat cutting in a barber shop.

Drift Factor: I looked at my watch often.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Neither, but for some of Viggo Mortenson's other work try renting: A History of Violence, The Lord of the Rings, A Walk on the Moon, A Perfect Murder and Witness

Length: Under two hours.