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Eastern Promises Review Critics


Dave White Profile

… excellently weird push-pull attraction to evil … Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    The actors and the characters merge and form a reality above and apart from the story, and the result is a film that takes us beyond crime and London and the Russian mafia and into the mystifying realms of human nature.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Eastern Promises has a compelling story and strong performances to back up what may seem excessive or sensationalistic.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    It's an academic meditation in underworld-thriller drag -- a movie that looks about as close to a straight-ahead, down-and-dirty genre entertainment as anything the director has made since his exploding-head horror days.

    Read Full Review

  • 90

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    Cronenberg and screenwriter Steve Knight masterfully orchestrate an atmosphere of danger and dread for a descent into an underworld inhabited by the Russian mafia in London.

    Read Full Review

  • 90

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Viggo Mortensen's performance is flat-out brilliant, and this relentlessly dramatic thriller represents a mid-life growth spurt for its director, David Cronenberg.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Eastern Promises reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

not for kids

Compelling but brutal mafia film for adults only.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that violence -- both graphic and implied -- permeates this film (just as it did Viggo Mortensen and David Cronenberg's last collaboration, A History of Violence). From the first scene (which shows a brutal throat cutting) on, it's clear that kids and teens aren't the intended audience. Women are manhandled, men are murdered, babies are kidnapped, sons are betrayed, and sexual acts are forced, with little or no emotion. There's also smoking, drinking, strong language, and full nudity. It all serves a complex storyline that yields an intriguing film. But if you're not a Cronenberg fan, you may walk away stunned and appalled.

  • Families can talk about how the movie depicts mob life. Does it glamorize it or paint a more distasteful picture? How is it similar to and different from other movies about the mafia? Why are films in general fascinated by the criminal underworld? What about that subject drives filmmakers and screenwriters to explore it over and over? Families can also talk about the role of violence in the movie. Is it necessary to tell the story? Why or why not? How realistic do you think it is?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Murder, deception, brutality, kidnapping, smuggling, homophobia -- there's a panoply of questionable behavior on display here.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: Brutal and nearly unrelenting, whether outright graphic or implied. In the opening scene, the throat of a man sitting in a barber shop chair is slit while the camera zooms up close; later, mobsters cut off his fingers so that there won't be any fingerprints (also shown in close-up). A young girl collapses in a pool of blood, Semyon beats his son at the drop of a hat, and Kirill then takes out his frustrations on others. A particularly bloody fight unfolds in a bathhouse, where a naked Nikolai goes up against two clothed intruders bearing knives. One ends up with a dagger in his eyeballs (again, seen up close). Accompanying all of this is a cacophony of disturbing sounds of bones crunching and flesh being hacked to pieces. Women are raped and coerced into sex.

  • sex false5

    Sex: Tatiana and Nikolai share a tender kiss. All other scenes of sex/nudity involve women clearly under the influence of force and/or coercion. One of these disturbing scenes shows a woman having intercourse (her breasts and bottom are bare) while her eyes are glazed over, as if she's completely disconnected from the act. Images include full nudity, though it's artfully staged so that the camera doesn't linger too long on genitalia (viewers just get flashes of them).

  • language false5

    Language: Many uses of "f--k," "bitch," and "whore."

  • consumerism false3

    Consumerism: Occasional: Business card for a Russian restaurant, champagne label, Mercedes Benz.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Alcohol fuels the mayhem and seemingly numbs characters to their acts of violence (in a few scenes at a brothel, men drink from liquor bottles before they have sex -- one of them forcibly -- with the women). The young girl, Tatiana, has track marks on her arms, proof that she was drugged so she wouldn't fight her unfortunate circumstances. The men smoke endlessly, and there's social drinking and smoking in the restaurant.