fri 28/02/2020

Siberia review - Keanu Reeves's duff Russian mission | reviews, news & interviews

Siberia review - Keanu Reeves's duff Russian mission

Siberia review - Keanu Reeves's duff Russian mission

Crime thriller gets lost in the wilderness

Keanu Reeves in 'Siberia'

It is appropriate that Keanu Reeves sounds especially croaky and muffled throughout Siberia. Business meetings for his character Lucas Hill (a diamond trader) don’t normally involve much talk, just a swift briefcase handover and a confidential handshake. He is forced to get engaged, however, when his partner Pyotr (Boris Gulyarin) disappears, forcing him to travel to Russia to meet with the clients and track down his colleague. Hill (and you can’t help but thinking Keanu Reeves, too) doesn’t seem pleased with either: the acting, or the talking.

In St Petersburg, Hill is given two days to produce the diamonds. He leaves for Siberia to find Pyotr, but ends up starting an affair with a café-owner called Katya (Ana Ularu). Why does she fall for him? It might be because he’s a cool American who can speak some Russian. Or it’s his taut mysterious edge (which Reeves was no doubt urged to overplay). Either way, they spend too much time discussing how the behavioural customs differ between America and Russia, and not enough about the kinds of things that might keep the plot moving.

Hill seems to forget about finding Pyotr, or recovering the stones, or investing any emotion in Katya. Rather, he heads off on an all-boys hunting trip with Katya’s brothers and their friends. Other sidetracks in the narrative fall flat or take up too much time. Back in St Petersburg, the goons that are supposedly after Hill are happy to let him drift around.

Often, crime thriller films with meandering or existential narratives compensate with extravagant, fantastical or entertainingly wacky characters. The eccentric agency of a detective, or the wily menace of a villain, can be enough to pull us through a labyrinthine story. It’s a shame that director Matthew Ross (he made Frank & Lola in 2016) takes his characters in the other direction: towards a tedious, dejected lifelessness. In Siberia everything is cold and dreary, and not in any atmospheric or captivating way.

They spend too much time discussing how the behavioural customs differ between America and Russia, and not enough on plot


Editor Rating: 
Average: 1 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters