Cast: Viggo mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl Dir: Davin Cronenberg Rating: 4/5
Set in a dark and gritty London the mysterious Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen Lord of the Rings) is a driver for one of London's most notorious organised crime families.The family itself is part of the Vory V Zakone criminal brotherhood headed by Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), , whose restaurant masks the brutal and violent reality.Semyon's son Kirill (Vincent Cassel) is reckless putting the family's fortunes regularly to the test as he tries to prove his worth to his father.Nikolai's carefully maintained existence is put under threat when he meets midwife Anna Khitrova (Naomi Watts).Anna is on a quest to track down the family of a teenage girl who died while giving birth to her daughter.By getting the diary that survives her translated Anna accidentally unleashes the fury of the Vory as they try to keep the secrets of the diary buried.
But Nikolai unexpectedly finds his loyalties divided.
This is the second collaboration between filmmaker David Cronenberg and leading man Viggo Mortensen after 2005's A History of Violence, and here is to many more.
Eastern Promises is an ultra violent and gritty gangster movie which is surrounded in an air of menace from the opening scenes to the closing credits.
Cronenberg masterfully mixes moments of extreme violence, of which there are many, with rare and unexpected, yet fit perfectly, moments of compassion. This is without a doubt a movie that tackles the ideas of masculinity and very extreme boundaries.
Leading man Viggo Mortensen well and truly shakes off the Lord of the Rings tag with his excellent performance that was worthy of the somewhat unexpected Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
Tattooed to within an inch of his life Mortensen's performance is controlled as the lean and muscular actor prowls across the screen whilst bringing moral complexity to the film as he wrestles with his conscience.
Mortensen, who's star is quickly rising, goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to nakedness enduring an brutal four minute fight scene in a Turkish bath house which also highlights the darkness in the character we are all rooting for.
The supporting cast are excellent Naomi Watts does well with what she is given but at times her character does seem a little under developed.
Cronenberg once again produces a stylish, beautiful, despite of the ugliness that it portrays, and violent movie that delves deep in the mysteries of human nature and should have been recognised on a wider scale.
Eastern Promises is out on DVD now
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw
With tattoos a prominent feature in Eastern Promises view the Tattoos on Film galley.