Eastern Promises on DVD. Director David Cronenberg states during an interview included in the bonus features that his “desire was to make a complex, textured film.” He succeeded tremendously. Viggo Mortensen is excellent as an intelligent, sometimes creepy, criminal trying to move up and earn his “stars” within a London-based Russian mob family run by Armin Mueller-Stahl, the outwardly friendly patriarch with a heart as cold as ice. Naomi Watts, a midwife at a local hospital, stumbles into this violent world when she takes a diary from a prostitute who dies during delivery and attempts to have it translated in an effort to find information about the newborn’s family back in the motherland.
The chemistry between Mortensen and Watts is very good and despite a few predictable plot twists, the high level of tension and suspense is maintained throughout the film. Mortensen’s performance drives the movie and is certainly worthy of his Oscar nomination. Because the Russians favor knives over guns, the violence depicted may be too graphic for some viewers, especially in the early scenes. This is a first-rate, believable thriller.