Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – Siberia

My notes on the Keanu Reeves movie Siberia, opening in the US on July 13.

Slightly dodgy gem trader Lucas Hill (Keanu Reeves) goes to Russia to tie up a deal involving fabulously valuable blue diamonds, but his partner goes missing and he winds up leaving the relative cosiness of St Petersberg for the frozen wastes of Siberia … where he cops off with local waitress Katya (Ana Ularu), gets beaten up by local clods, goes on a bear hunt, shoots a wounded dog, finds at least one of the diamonds inside a candle (though others may be fake), worries a bit about his wife back home (Molly Ringwald, phoned up) and waits for something more exciting to happen, probably involving Russian gangsters with guns who want to kill him.  Reeves is glum, buttoned-down and affectless in this low-wattage thriller, which is an odd choice of project to follow up his mid-career turnaround in the John Wick films – and he’s pretty much the whole show.  Shot in Canada, it runs through the gamut of cliché depictions of post-Soviet Russian criminality but the plot never gathers any momentum – and, disappointingly from A Simple Plan author Scott B. Smith (who scripted from a story devised with producer Stephen Hamel), the characters are unlikeable without being intriguing, and the who’s-got-the-diamonds storyline is too uninteresting to get invested in.  It climaxes with a shoot-out in the woods and a mildly unexpected, if scarcely enlightening finish.  For centuries, internal exile in Siberia has been an actual punishment in Russia but also a handy metaphor for entering a state of limbo or non-being … under the chilly surface, that metaphor obviously applies here, but that still doesn’t add much to the sorry spectacle of Reeves (‘dressed for St Petersburg’) shivering in a nondescript, not-actually-Siberian nowhere.  Directed by Matthew Ross (Frank and Lola).


Here’s a trailer.


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