Tuesday, July 5, 2011

365 Movies Day #98 "Eastern Promises"

Like "Faster", this is another movie that I mention assuming everyone has seen it and am usually unpleasantly surprised. Unlike "Faster" its been out for 4 years. Could it be because its from the same team that brought us the graphic novel adaptation "History of Violence", which while excellent in it's fight choreography and casting was clunky in its execution and parts of the story? I suppose. Director David Cronenberg is hit or miss with great flicks like "Scanners" and virtual garbage like "Crash" (not to be confused with the amazing 2004 film of the same name). "Promises" is definitely on the hit side.

There's no doubting that lead man Viggo Mortensen is a near flawless actor with amazing performances in "Lord of the Rings" and the adaptaion Cormac McCarthy's "The Road", but he's been knocking them out of the park since "The Prophecy" where he played the small role of Lucifer and "GI Jane" where he played Ridley Scott's DH Lawerence quoting Master Chief. In "Eastern Promises" he plays an amazingly hardened Russian mobster who is forced to choose between doing what is right and remaining loyal to his roots when confronted by a British journalist played by Naomi Watts. In fact, his character is so bad that he takes on 12 guys while NAKED in a public bath and it's one of the most badass fight scenes ever put on film...seriously.

Vincent Cassel is back in the blog as fellow conflicted mobster Kirill. Another great performance from him, just as in "MESRINE" and "BIRTHDAY GIRL" (where he plays another member of Russia's criminal element). Another fantastic character actor Armin Mueller-Stahl ("Angels and Demons", "The Game") is ALSO an X-Files veteran. I beginning to think almost everyone in the business was on that show.

"Eastern Promises" received a lot of critical acclaim including and audience prize for best film at the Toronto International Film Festival, 3 Golden Globe nominations and even an academy award nomination for Best Actor for Viggo (He lost to Daniel Day-Lewis for "There Will Be Blood"). Why have so few people I talk to seen this film then? Not sure, but if you haven't seen it, you're depriving yourself.


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