Embroiled in Russian gangsters, fist fights and shady hotels alongside a soundtrack of classical strings and staccato script, you’d be forgiven for taking one look at Keanu Reeves in Siberia and mistaking the thriller for a chillier, off-season John Wick. Unfortunately, this is not that film. Centred on a diamond trader‘s quest to track down his missing gems and his sketchy business partner, this vaguely intriguing concept is swiftly shot down by genre confusion and monotony. It’s a diamond in the rough – without the diamond.
What actually happens in the movie? From both first glance and 30 minutes in, it’s hard to say. An American abroad, Reeves plays merchant/businessman Lucas Hill who is on a half-hearted search mission when he meets local cafe owner Katya (Ana Ularu) and gets fully sidetracked – along with the feature. The camera routinely flashes to his ring finger to remind us that a Molly Ringwald cameo as Mrs Hill is only one Facetime away. “You’re not a good man,” Hill tells himself before embarking on an affair with Katya, leading to the next awkward 30-plus minutes of unfounded romance and unconvincing chemistry. As a character, his love interest is disappointingly one-dimensional and meek, despite being the very same character who propositions Hill within virtually five seconds of meeting.
The third act is as slow as its predecessors – even when it picks up. There’s a change of scenery to the Siberian outdoors and the looming threat of baddie Boris Volkov (Pasha D Lychnikoff), the diamond buyer who offers no challenges to the mobster stereotype. Similarly, Reeves finds himself playing a cheaper stereotype of himself; he isn’t required to utter more than a few syllables at a time and the script offers few moments to shine, which is a shame given his star billing. As for Ringwald? Blink and she’s already hung up on Facetime.
Usually, dialogue-scarce films rely on artistic flair, but Siberia is a less stylish production that seems a little all over the place without really going anywhere. A romantic thriller or a thrilling romance? If you make it to the end of the movie, perhaps an opinion will have formed. Or, perhaps it’ll mark the time to start counting down to John Wick 3 instead.
Siberia is released in select cinemas on 16th November 2018.
Watch the trailer for Siberia here: