For those folks who love good drama, action, and thrills, get out and catch director David Cronenberg’s new film, EASTERN PROMISES. It is about the Russian mafia, the “vory v zakone”, in modern day London. Cronenberg works again with Viggo Mortensen, who plays Nikolai, a hit man who doubles as a driver. Remember they scored well a couple years ago with A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. For this film Mortensen traveled to Russia by himself, without a translator, studying the gangs, the accents, and the prisons. He taught himself a perfect Russian accent, and says many lines in Russian. There is a fight in a bathhouse that will shock and thrill everyone. They took a week to choreograph it, and two days to shoot it. Unlike the sloppy stage fights and crappy camera work in the latest BOURNE ULTIMATUM, this fight has the sting and shock value of say Woody Strode vs. Kirk Douglas in SPARTACUS.
Naomi Watts is the femme in the film, and she does another fine job. She found out she was pregnant a couple weeks into the film, and her wardrobe had to hide it. Sinead Cusack played her mother, and Jerzy Skolimowski was wonderful as her Russian uncle. The Russian mobsters were played by Armin Mueller-Stahl as the Don, Semyen, and Vincent Cassel as his drunken boorish son, Kirill.
This marks the first time that Cronenberg has filmed a movie entirely out of Canada. It is hard to fully describe the film other than to say it will provoke strong responses. Mortensen does some of his best work ever in it.