© Focus Features.
...Eastern Promises" instantly takes its place among David Cronenberg's very best films. Same could be said for Viggo Mortensen, whose tightly coiled star turn recalls the magnetic work of Hollywood's greats of yore. - Todd McCarthy, Variety
End of year movie list comments
© Focus Features.
Viggo Mortensen has his career best performance as a Russian gangster at odds with his ruthless boss over the fate of a child. David Cronenberg's second effort (A History of Violence was the first collaboration) with Mortensen is astonishing, the darkest and most thrilling crime drama of the year.
The brilliant Canadian struck pay dirt with his last two films, A History of Violence and this year's best film, hands down: Eastern Promises....Cronenberg artfully pulls us into a new Godfather tinged epic that replaces Italians in New York with Russians in London....Part love from afar, part Fight Club with knives, Cronenberg has extracted an Oscar-worthy performance out of his friend and best leading man, Viggo Mortensen, and a fierce performance from French actor Vincent Cassel....The actors perfectly inhabit the Russian mindset that balances fatalism, depression, intensity and an emotional nature....Everyone who catches this movie wants to see a sequel continuing Nikolai's saga.
Monsters & Critics
As a fan of director David Cronenberg and stars Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts, it would've been hard for me to not like this unsettling, provocative movie about London's underground Russian crime community. Mortensen gives one of his best performances as a mob chauffeur whose motives are hard to pin down, and the edgy storyline - about the international sex trade, a child of unknown lineage and the darkest imaginable version of "family" values - kept you engrossed, if sometimes simply grossed out.
This darkly alluring crime drama combined the nervy brio of director David Cronenberg with the cool intelligence of screenwriter Steven Knight. Viggo Mortensen's poker-faced impersonation of a Russian mobster was so much more than that much-ballyhooed brawl in the nude.
Actor Viggo Mortensen re-teamed with his History of Violence partner, director David Cronenberg, for this dark tale of sex slavery in London. Naomi Watts plays a caring midwife who becomes accidentally entangled with an organized crime family while trying to find the relatives of an orphaned child. Mortensen plays a character who may or may not be a decent man.
The film is moody, dark and intense and Mortensen is a frontrunner for a best actor Oscar nomination thanks to his career-best performance.
Reno Gazette Journal
While my stomach for violence is notoriously weak, there was too much else to love about this Cronenberg film....Viggo Mortensen continues to ascend the ranks of acting class and cred, his Russian is faultless from accent to intent.
TV3 (New Zealand)
Viggo Mortensen is beguiling as a tattooed question mark, and the director, David Cronenberg, despite having nothing profound to say this time, still manages to achieve blistering profundity.
Naked, tattoo-scrawled Viggo Mortensen demolishes the two leather-jacketed, knife-wielding thugs attacking him using brute strength and stomach-churning acrobatics. The sound of "biffs," "bams" and "pows" echoing off the tiled walls of the Russian baths still haunts our dreams.
David Cronenberg's grimly funny and deeply visceral take on the organized evil that men traffic in is of a piece with the superb A History of Violence. It echoes many of History's themes of self-reinvention and features always-enjoyable Viggo Mortensen in the central role of a man who has burrowed deep into an assumed identity.
Arkansas Democratic Gazette
David Cronenberg's potent and powerful Russian mob epic puts on display what Viggo Mortensen is sadly without: an Oscar. A taught masterpiece filled with intrigue and authenticity. Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel and Armin Mueller-Stahl are terrific as the supporting cast, but the film, as did Cronenberg's A History of Violence, belongs and encompasses Mortensen.
Morris Daily Herald
Director David Cronenberg and star Viggo Mortensen build upon their previous collaboration, A History of Violence, in shifting their story from the tired Italian and Irish mob scenes to the Russian organized crime game. Russian accents have felled many an actor, but Mr. Mortensen, an obsessive preparer, embodies his character, accent and all, flawlessly.
David Cronenberg reunites with Viggo Mortensen after 2005's A History of Violence for their second masterpiece of violence and redemption. It's smart, tightly paced and Mortensen is fantastic opposite Naomi Watts as a Russian hitman with a secret.
A stripped-down (in every sense) gangland story, with Viggo Mortensen giving another strong performance as an upwardly swimming chauffeur in London's Russian mob, and Naomi Watts as a midwife whose discovery changes his trajectory. David Cronenberg directed, with steely focus.
Everett Daily Herald
Viggo Mortensen owns every frame of this tale of deadly secrets and a nurse swept into the world of the Russian mob. His silence speaks volumes in David Cronenberg's ferocious little thriller
David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen came together again for Eastern Promises, a tale of the Russian Mafia set in London. Mortensen was memorable as a charismatic, brutal hitman on the make. A scene involving murder and mayhem in a steam bath was one to add to Cronenberg's gallery of remarkable cinematic moments involving death.
The Age (Australia)