Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. 100
    The actors and the characters merge and form a reality above and apart from the story, and the result is a film that takes us beyond crime and London and the Russian mafia and into the mystifying realms of human nature.
  2. 88
    Even with his clothes on, this is Mortensen's best and richest performance, worthy of serious awards consideration. He lends a moral complexity to Eastern Promises that makes it much more than just a very accomplished action thriller.
  3. 88
    In Eastern Promises, shot to envelop by the great Peter Suschitzky, Cronenberg brings us face to face with the horror of self.
  4. 88
    An icily seductive parable about family, power, unconventional justice and the perils of answered prayers.
  5. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    88
    This is the first time, though, his (Mortensen)performance seemed so much bigger than the film surrounding it. That he manages the feat with so few wasted gestures puts him in line with the greats.
  6. Viggo Mortensen's performance is flat-out brilliant, and this relentlessly dramatic thriller represents a mid-life growth spurt for its director, David Cronenberg.
  7. 89
    It's Cronenberg's film, but it's the actors who elevate Eastern Promises from mere thriller to some other, more disturbing plane.
  8. Cronenberg's follow-up to "A History of Violence" -- starring the same lead, Viggo Mortensen, in a very different part -- lacks the theoretical dimension of its predecessor, but it's no less masterful in its fluid storytelling and shocking choreography of violence.
  9. An unusually strong crime thriller, Eastern Promises comes from director David Cronenberg, a meticulous old-school craftsman of a type that is becoming increasingly rare.
  10. 90
    The rigor of Mr. Cronenberg’s direction sometimes seems at odds with the humanism of Mr. Knight’s script, but more often the director’s ruthless formal command rescues the story from its maudlin impulses. Mr. Knight aims earnestly for your heartstrings, but Mr. Cronenberg insists on getting under your skin. The result is a movie whose images and implications are likely to stay in your head for a long time.
  11. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    90
    A superbly wrought yarn set in the milieu of first-generation Russian mobsters in London that is simultaneously tough-minded and compassionate about the human condition, Eastern Promises instantly takes its place among David Cronenberg's very best films.
  12. 90
    A dark and mesmerizing immersion into a distinctive world.
  13. 91
    Cronenberg has, as Guillermo del Toro did in "Pan's Labyrinth," crafted both a drama and a fairy tale -- and he's done it in an entertainment as cracking as you could wish for.
  14. 90
    A rhapsodic movie directed with considerable formal intelligence and brooding power from an original screenplay by Steve Knight, Eastern Promises is very much a companion to "A History of Violence."
  15. The restraint of both director and actor makes this steely gangster drama reverberate long after it ends. This kind of mystery is rare in a film culture that demands answers before the credits roll.
  16. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    100
    One of Cronenberg's subtlest, most insinuating pictures, and one of the highlights of the year so far.
  17. Reviewed by: Sura Wood
    90
    Cronenberg and screenwriter Steve Knight masterfully orchestrate an atmosphere of danger and dread for a descent into an underworld inhabited by the Russian mafia in London.
  18. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    90
    David Cronenberg's elegant treatise on the metaphysics of violence.
User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 219 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 69 out of 93
  2. Negative: 18 out of 93
  1. LuciD.
    Feb 22, 2009
    10
    This is for an educated audience. (not for a supposed 8-year-old niece that can write a script about Russian organized crime as noted in a This is for an educated audience. (not for a supposed 8-year-old niece that can write a script about Russian organized crime as noted in a non-critical bashing review) The mind-set is for the R rating, maturity and international crime solving group. Viggo Mortensen received a long deserved Oscar nom for his ability to get into his character's skin on this one. Well worth the watch and will put you on the edge of your seat; as well as open-a closed mindset. Full Review »
  2. DanielT
    Apr 8, 2009
    8
    Flawed, yes. But it's both riveting and compelling. The primary reason I rate this movie as "good" to "very good" is that it brings to Flawed, yes. But it's both riveting and compelling. The primary reason I rate this movie as "good" to "very good" is that it brings to light some important issues and is entertaining. If you want highly authentic material however, this isn't the film. Full Review »
  3. Apr 13, 2011
    7
    Mortensen was mesmerising, so much so I almost forgot the farrago of LOTR. It wasn't the same person. He was effortlessly menacing, yet stillMortensen was mesmerising, so much so I almost forgot the farrago of LOTR. It wasn't the same person. He was effortlessly menacing, yet still human; the plot and all the rest of the actors moved around him in the shadows - except for Armin Mueller Stahl who was (literally) the only genuine Russian. Vincent Cassel gave his usual panto performance. Naomi Watts was weak and couldn't transcend the implausibility she was being asked to cover up for.

    Everything tailed away somewhat disappointingly after a powerful first half and I was left watching the closing credits wondering what kind of fool I'd just been taken for. But at least I watched the closing credits because I was still thinking about it.
    Full Review »