Universal acclaim - based on 35 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 219 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: The mysterious and charismatic Russian-born Nikolai Luzhin is a driver for one of London's most notorious organized crime families of Eastern European origin. The family is part of the Vory V Zakone criminal brotherhood. Headed by Semyon--whose courtly charm as the welcoming proprietor of the plush Trans-Siberian restaurant impeccably masks a cold, brutal core--the family is tested by Semyon's volatile son and enforcer, Kirill, who is more tightly bound to Nikolai than to his own father. But Nikolai's carefully maintained existence is jarred once he crosses paths at Christmastime with Anna Khitrova, a midwife at a North London hospital. Anna is deeply affected by the desperate situation of a young teenager who dies while giving birth to a baby. Anna resolves to try to trace the baby's lineage and relatives. The girl's personal diary also survives her, which is written in Russian; thus, Anna seeks answers in it. Anna's mother, Helen, does not discourage her, but Anna's irascible Russian-born uncle Stepan urges caution. He is right to do so: By delving into the diary, Anna has accidentally unleashed the full fury of the Vory. (Focus Features) Expand
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. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    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.
  3. 90
    A dark and mesmerizing immersion into a distinctive world.
  4. 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.
  5. 75
    Here is an excellent crime thriller made with grown-ups in mind: Yep, it must definitely be fall.
  6. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Eastern Promises has a compelling story and strong performances to back up what may seem excessive or sensationalistic.
  7. 50
    Eastern Promises is intensely anti-dramatic.

See all 35 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 69 out of 93
  2. Negative: 18 out of 93
  1. LuciD.
    Feb 22, 2009
    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. Expand
  2. AnnieI.
    Sep 21, 2007
    I think the people who gave this film a 1 are just visitors on this forum, nothing more, and for the love of argument, they wrote something about a story they did not follow closely, about a film they did not have the patience to watch until the final credits. I think Cronenberg is one of the most interesting filmmakers of our times, and this one is definitely in my top ten this year. Maybe not the same as "A History of Violence" which was absolutely mesmerizing... but still, real cinema and not commercial crap, as unfortunately 90 percent of what is being done in Hollywood today. As for Mortensen, well, I think this time he has really achieved perfection. You have to be absurd and a bit silly to expect for more. Expand
  3. GerryM.
    Sep 14, 2007
    What a strange, brutal movie.
  4. Andy
    Sep 21, 2007
    Wow Nat, a movie about the mafia that has violence? How dare they! This movie is classic Cronenberg and Mortensen's performance will surely get noms. Maybe you should stick with Good Luck Chuck if you find this movie confusing. Expand
  5. BillyS.
    Oct 5, 2007
    After A History of Violence, David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen team up again for Eastern Promises and the results are even better this time. Mortensen has never been better and Naomi Watts is perfect. I may be jumpin' the gun on this one, but this could be the best actor/director collaboration since the hallowed days of Scorsese and Deniro. A must-see for all film lovers and Oscar watchers!! (you'll be hearing Easter Promises a few times come January.) Expand
  6. TedJ
    Sep 25, 2007
    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
  7. HistoryofViolenceSucked
    Sep 26, 2007
    I walked out of History of Violence because it sucked so bad, so I'm glad I read some of these reviews. Sounds like more of the same. History of Violence, to me, had no character development. I didn't give a crap about any of the characters, and then having to watch a ridiculously timed, lame sex scene on the stairs was the icing on the cake. I looked around in the theater and was like, "Am I the only one who sees how weak the script and acting are?" I bailed, since you never get back that 2 hours, even if you can't get your money back! Expand

See all 93 User Reviews