- First off, since this is what people ask about with Cronenberg films and films of this type: yes, it’s violent. The violence is very selective and the scenes are few and far between, but the violence we do see is bold and graphic and really, really explicit. I like violent movies and I can stomach a lot of the usual things you see in violent films — for example, nothing in The Departed made me cringe — but the various acts of violence in this had me hiding behind my hands and risking one eye through spread fingers. In the first scene, this random guy gets his throat slit while he’s at a barber shop getting his hair cut, only he doesn’t get his throat slit in the standard quick-slice motion you’re accustomed to seeing in films: he gets his throat slit by the inept nephew of the barber who literally saws back and forth through his throat with a razor blade. Later on, Viggo Mortensen stabs someone in the eye and the worst part is that you know it’s coming. Eesh.
- I can’t take Vincent Cassel seriously in anything he does. I just want to laugh him off screen whenever he appears. I kept expecting him to die, mostly because inept and slow-witted sons of crime syndicate bosses usually do die in films like this, but the lucky bastard managed to make it out alive.
- Other than Vincent Cassel not dying like I thought he would, this movie was boringly predictable. I was making a mental checklist of things I kept waiting to happen:
- The revelation that Viggo Mortensen was working undercover for the police — check.
- The revelation that Uncle Stepan wasn’t actually dead — check.
- The revelation that Semyon was the father of the orphaned infant — check.
And on and on. Now, the only other David Cronenberg film I’ve seen is A History of Violence (which I did not hate but also did not love), but aren’t his movies supposed to be more complex than this? This was paint-by-numbers basic.
- I liked that sweater Naomi Watts was wearing in that one scene. This is important, I know.
- Viggo Mortensen seemed to be playing Nikolai like he was a Russian version of Ed Harris’ character from A History of Violence. However, he got to wear quite a number of very impeccable suits, so that was nice.
- For those who are interested in this, there is indeed full-frontal Viggo in this movie. On the one hand, you get to see him naked while he’s at a public bath house; on the other hand, it’s only because he gets tag teamed by two Russian thugs and engages in a full on knife fight after losing his towel. So… not really sexy, but it’s actually one of the better knife fights I’ve seen in a while, which I think is the more important thing here.
- There was something kind of hot in the scene where Viggo is nonchalantly lazing around in his underwear and smoking while this other guy tattoos his kneecaps.
- Oh, and you want badass? Viggo puts out a cigarette on his tongue at the start of the movie. I love getting introduced to characters in such an extreme and hardcore fashion right off the bat, it really sets the tone for the rest of the movie.
Categories: 2 Stars