Eastern Promises

User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 249 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 48 out of 249

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User Reviews

  1. CristovD.
    Oct 7, 2007
    4
    Cliche, careless, completely unconvincing.
  2. MarkC
    Feb 7, 2008
    5
    The actors are great; the film is weak. Another overrated notch in Cronenberg's mediocre belt. It settles for suggesting an impressionistic, sensationalized portrayal of the Russian Mafia/human trafficking, where a more detailed and realistic view of this true and little-known underworld would have lent more credibility and suspense. Instead we get a comic book, like The actors are great; the film is weak. Another overrated notch in Cronenberg's mediocre belt. It settles for suggesting an impressionistic, sensationalized portrayal of the Russian Mafia/human trafficking, where a more detailed and realistic view of this true and little-known underworld would have lent more credibility and suspense. Instead we get a comic book, like Cronenberg's last film, A History of Violence. The entire film is premised on the ridiculous notion of the Watts character actually going to a location mentioned in the diary of a young girl who died under very unusual circumstances, and then mentioning the diary--when she has people in her OWN FAMILY who are Russian and could translate it! Though the film itself is weak, all the actors turn in wonderful performances, and the story will hold your interest. It's not as entirely violent as some here say. Expand
  3. scanlon
    Dec 29, 2007
    4
    Interesting but way too much graphic violence, sex, nudity, and language. Is this what passes as mainstream these days?
  4. MaxL
    Sep 24, 2007
    5
    Good beginning until the story took a very very wrong turn at the end. The worst ending/revelation ever. And whatever happened to the nurse? She disappeared halfway thru the movie. Ack! Wait until DVD. Very disappointing. Better than most crap out there? OK! So, that doesn't make this a good movie.
  5. TedJ
    Sep 25, 2007
    6
    There are some very good--and even great--parts and aspects of this film, but, overall, I didn't like it. I have to give the film merit for taking on serious issues earnestly; for that reason alone, I have to applaud it. But the script was pretty mediocre. In particular, the dead Russian girl's voice over was terribly executed; it was excruciatingly cloying in its melodrama. There are some very good--and even great--parts and aspects of this film, but, overall, I didn't like it. I have to give the film merit for taking on serious issues earnestly; for that reason alone, I have to applaud it. But the script was pretty mediocre. In particular, the dead Russian girl's voice over was terribly executed; it was excruciatingly cloying in its melodrama. (The unwavering use of a weepy string section during these parts only added to my disgust.) I thought the movie ended rather abruptly, too, especially since a plot twist is introduced right at the end. I expected the movie to go another twenty minutes. (Although the final shot is haunting.) And I didn't think Mortensen or Watts had any chemistry warranting a kiss. That said, Mortensen is great, very laconic, using understatement to maximum effect. The violence is graphic, but, excepting the spectacular bath scene, it comes across as more gratuitous than shocking or unnerving. This is not the edgy, intense film I was anticipating, but more or a half-realized, noble failure that still merits a viewing. Expand
  6. Maria
    Jan 12, 2008
    5
    Maybe scenes of violence are good not sure about it as I am not big fun of it. But biggest disappointment was very poor knowledge of Russian history. It looked to me like old movie about Italian gangsters in NY but translated into Russian:) Being Russian (and living over 16 years in London) I have to say that movie has not much to do with Russians living abroad or Russian mafia (Vory v Maybe scenes of violence are good not sure about it as I am not big fun of it. But biggest disappointment was very poor knowledge of Russian history. It looked to me like old movie about Italian gangsters in NY but translated into Russian:) Being Russian (and living over 16 years in London) I have to say that movie has not much to do with Russians living abroad or Russian mafia (Vory v zakone). Director and script writer should at least study more Russian movies based on the same subject if they are too scared to learn it in real life:) Very poor and very disappointing movie, but nice actors and really nice acting. Expand
  7. KenC
    Jan 25, 2008
    5
    Again the critics are out to lunch. While the film was an interesting look at the Russian Mafia - it seems to wallow in it's own violence that at times seems pointless. Watchable, but not particularly well done.
  8. ng
    Feb 22, 2008
    6
    Being Russian myself I cannot say I enjoyed either their English or Russian accents. I appreciate the interest to my country but the fact of exchanging one cliche (involving balalaika, white bears and the same nonsense) to another (slammer country/slave export, etc.) does not seem very enlightening. Though the acting was nicely done it's the only enjoyable thing about this film. You Being Russian myself I cannot say I enjoyed either their English or Russian accents. I appreciate the interest to my country but the fact of exchanging one cliche (involving balalaika, white bears and the same nonsense) to another (slammer country/slave export, etc.) does not seem very enlightening. Though the acting was nicely done it's the only enjoyable thing about this film. You maybe want to get used to the odd Russian culture but please remember that this is just another fairy tale. Expand
  9. Jun 14, 2015
    5
    Eastern Promises is the latest effort from acclaimed filmmaker David Cronenberg, whose recent work has elevated his status from that of a cult figure to someone in the mainstrem. Although the director has re-teamed with his The History of Violence star, Viggo Mortensen, the results aren’t as satisfactory. Eastern Promises is a jumbled string of mob-related clichés that mesh into somethingEastern Promises is the latest effort from acclaimed filmmaker David Cronenberg, whose recent work has elevated his status from that of a cult figure to someone in the mainstrem. Although the director has re-teamed with his The History of Violence star, Viggo Mortensen, the results aren’t as satisfactory. Eastern Promises is a jumbled string of mob-related clichés that mesh into something that’s derivative and at times uninteresting. Aside from two “Cronenberg” scenes, the movie is lifeless and concludes on a note that makes the movie feel unfinished. I have been complaining about a lot of the movies at this festival being needlessly long; Eastern Promises might have been a better production had it added another 15 or 20 minutes on the back end, beefing up an anticlimactic finale.

    Naomi Watts is Anna, a midwife at a London hospital. After delivering a baby for an unwed mother who dies in childbirth, Anna goes in search of the girl’s living relatives. Her quest unexpectedly brings her into contact with the Russian mob, presided over by the kingpin, a restaurant owner named Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), and his creepy son (Vincent Cassel). They pretend to be nice to her, but their goal is to obtain an incriminating diary possessed by the dead mother. To do their dirty work, they employ Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), whose official role is as Semyon’s driver, but who is also referred to as “the undertaker.” Nikolai has his own secrets, not the least of which is a desire to depose Semyon and replace him upon the throne of the Russian criminal underworld in London.

    Eastern Promises concentrates on two basic plots, neither of which radiates originality. The first pertains to Anna’s near-obsessive need to find a family for the motherless baby. We learn that she lost a child and so relates to the newborn on a maternal level. Then there’s the crime element of the story, which includes gamesmanship among the gangsters to see who will ultimately end up on top. The “surprise” twist (which won’t be unexpected to some viewers) introduces more problems than it solves and leads in part to the incomplete feeling that accompanies the ending.

    Cronenberg delivers twice when it comes to gore and violence. The movie opens with one of these trademark scenes as a man’s throat is slit while he’s in a barber’s chair. (Encouragement to tip well.) Later, there’s a no holds-barred two-on-one between Nikolai and a couple of thugs. What makes this interesting is that Viggo Mortensen is naked for the entire battle. This is one of those rare movies when there’s plenty of male nudity as Mortensen literally lets it all hang out. (Hetero men will be glad to know that there are a few bare breasts here and there, although none belongs to Naomi Watts.) Sadly, those are the only two sequences likely to remind the viewer that he or she is watching a Cronenberg movie. The rest of what’s on offer - including everything related to Anna - is banal. Perhaps the director set the bar so high with The History of Violence (a flawed but at times brilliant motion picture) that there was no way he could equal it with Eastern Promises, but for him to fall so far short is nothing less than criminal.
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Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. It’s engrossing, and Mueller-Stahl’s mix of Old World chivalry and murderousness is scarier than Jason and Freddy combined.
  2. 88
    In Eastern Promises, shot to envelop by the great Peter Suschitzky, Cronenberg brings us face to face with the horror of self.
  3. 70
    Cronenberg made a movie called “The Dead Zone,” and I sometimes wonder whether, for all his formal brilliance, he has ever torn himself away from that locked-in, airless state of mind. You walk out of Eastern Promises feeling spooked and sullied, as if waking from a noisome dream.