Siberia 2018: Slow but intelligent, moody, and mature

In between starring as John Wick, Keanu Reeves seems to be biding his time making movies no one else wants to touch with a barge-pole.

Slow but intelligent, moody, and mature, this thriller isn’t exactly thrilling, yet it’s hypnotic in the way it zooms in on little messy, unexpected human behaviors. It’s all about the gray areas. Written by the talented Scott B. Smith (A Simple Plan, The Ruins), Siberia (Cuoc Chien Kim Cuong Xanh) has the advantage of plunking viewers right in the middle of a story that’s been going on for a while; in that way, it’s a little like spy movies from the 1960s and ’70s. Lucas Hill — played by Reeves at his reassuring, man-of-few-words best — is a longtime veteran, an expert at his job. As he deftly handles guns or assembles untraceable, disposable phones, his blank expression could mean anything. It’s fascinating to watch him to find out more.

Moreover, the character of Katya is more than just a tacked-on romantic interest. Her relationship with Lucas is deliberately weighted with danger and guilt and feeds directly into the story. Director Matthew Ross uses the same patient, thoughtful approach he brought to his fine Frank & Lola; he’s more interested in what makes these characters tick than in who gets the diamonds or wins the shoot-out. As in that action movie (phim hanh dong my), Ross seems drawn to interactions between two characters in foreign spaces. The Russian locales are especially effective, with St. Petersburg as the grayish, modern half of the story and Siberia as the freezing wilderness. A snowy climax in the woods has the power to leave viewers chilled to the bone.

Movie Summary:

In SIBERIA, American diamond merchant Lucas Hill (Keanu Reeves) travels to St. Petersburg, Russia, to meet his partner, Pyotr, and sell a collection of 12 exceedingly rare blue diamonds to Boris Volkov (Pasha D. Lychnikoff), a dangerous underworld type. But Pyotr has disappeared, along with the diamonds. A clue brings Lucas to Siberia, where he wanders into a neighborhood café and meets beautiful bartender Katya (Ana Ularu). Despite having a wife (Molly Ringwald) at home, Lucas is drawn to Katya — and she to him. Coming up empty in Siberia, Lucas reluctantly heads back to St. Petersburg, where he finds more clues left by Pyotr. Unfortunately, one of them involves Katya, and Lucas inadvertently pulls her into a world of danger he couldn’t have foreseen.

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