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Eastern Promises

Year: 2007
Production Co: Serendipity Point Films
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: Steve Knight
Cast: Viggo Mortenson, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Vincent Cassell
When David Cronenberg joined forces with his new muse Viggo Mortenseon, the result was the interesting but out-of-character A History of Violence, worlds away from the usual Cronenberg fare about the damage that can be done to human flesh.

It was an interesting collaboration but this film about a young nurse crossing the London-based Russian mob doesn't add anything to it.

The main problem I had was the accents. I don't know any Russian people, but every time Mortenson spoke he reminded me of Peter Stormare's corny Russian cosmonaut character in Armageddon ; 'Welcome to Russian space station.' I kept expecting similar cartoon-style Jinglish in the 'Put glass on table, ve haff drink later' vein.

The story however shows promise as a London nurse (Watts) with a damaged past delivers a baby from a nameless Russian immigrant girl who's apparently been sold into sex slavery judging from the diary she leaves behind, dying in childbirth.

The diary leads the nurse to a local Russian criminal kingpin (Mueller-Stahl), his unhinged son (Cassell) and their stoic, tough driver/hitman (Mortenson) who has a secret that provides the surprise eleventh hour twist.

Several well-informed cultural touches such as the Russian mafia's very cinematic practice of telling their life stories through tattoos give the film an air of authenticity, and the plot leads to more effective tension than outright violence, but it's fairly drably designed and the voices are hard to get past.

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