Movies are a great form of entertainment. In fact, there are movies that are so amazing that they create dedicated fandoms. A good movie can lift your spirits, ease stress, or even inspire you… But a bad movie can leave you bored and disappointed.
Today, we will be looking at Siberia. It stars Keanu Reeves, Ana Ularu, and Pasha D. Lychnikoff and is directed by Matthew Ross.
In the movie, we follow international diamond dealer Lucas Hill (Reeves) as he goes to Russia for a huge deal with his partner Pyotr. When Lucas arrives in mother Russia he finds that his partner is missing and so are the diamonds… Oh, and the diamonds are likely fake. The proposed buyer is Boris (Lychnikoff) and he’s not too happy that the deal smells fishy, but he agrees to give Lucas some time to make it right. Following a lead, Lucas heads to a small town in Siberia where he meets Katya (Ularu) who works at a local cafe. They strike up a romance as they dive deeper into the criminal world of diamonds. In the end, Lucas has to find a way to save his deal and his ass. Oh yeah, and Lucas has another friend that wants the diamonds until he realizes they’re fake. Oh, and that same friend helps Lucas in his deal with Boris. And… Yeah, it’s confusing.
Okay, here’s the thing… this movie could have been a very fun Jason Statham action flick, but instead, they tried to make it John Wick with diamonds. The idea of an international diamond dealer, possibly having been double-crossed by his partner, trying to survive multiple Russian crime bosses could be entertaining. However, the writers wanted this to be more of a crime drama and they ended up giving us a very long movie I never felt fully engaged in.
The actors do the best they can with what they’re given. Reeves is at his most Reeves-iness in this film. Some of you may think he’s trying to be John wick in this movie but that’s just who he is in most movies. Ularu probably has the best performance in the movie. She actually has a range of emotions she shows throughout the film and I found her facial expressions to be believable. Lychnikoff is a Russian gangster all the way to the core. I don’t want to take anything away from him, but that part is fairly one dimensional. I would like to point out that the use of Eastern European actors and native Russian speakers enhances the authenticity of the movie’s setting.
Getting to the story, I can see that the intent was to give us a layered thriller with twists and turns, but between the fate of Pyotr, the status of the fake diamonds, the deal with Boris, and the involvement of the other party, it’s too easy to get lost. It all gets blurred in the writer’s ambition for a complex story. With so much going on it’s hard to believe the film could be boring, but the story tries so hard to be clever that they forget to make us care for the characters or the situation they’re in. If the film could commit to a smaller story then it could get away with its more dramatic take on the crime thriller, and invest more time on character development. I have seen great drama driven crime thrillers like Heat, but that movie balanced action and character development much better than this one.
Speaking of relationships, a huge thorn in this movie’s side is the romance between Lucas and Katya. It fails to feel real and further detracts from the core story. It’s one of those things about on screen romances, they either work or they don’t and this one doesn’t work at all and it comes down to two things; Reeves and Ularu lack chemistry and their romance doesn’t really make sense. It’s shown that Lucas is married, and it appears to be a happy one. This doesn’t mean he can’t have an affair, but it does keep one from believing he can fall in love so deep with another woman so quickly. The only real passion between them is during multiple gratuitous sex scenes. These come at awkward times and really take you out of the movie.
Ross doesn’t do anything groundbreaking or amazing in his directorial debut, but he does seem competent with the camera. I can appreciate the color tones used in the movie, and the fact he didn’t use a blue filter throughout the whole thing is great. He does really well with the climactic action sequence at the end, and knows how and when to focus on facial expressions. I will say that there are several shots that linger in silence for too long.
I really wanted to like this movie. When I first read the synopsis I thought it could be fun. I didn’t get anything I thought I would and in the end, Siberia leaves us with a bloated story, undeveloped characters, and a desire to get the last 105 minutes of your life back.