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With: Keanu Reeves, Ana Ularu, Pasha D. Lychnikoff, Veronica Ferres, Molly Ringwald, Boris Gulyarin, Ashley St. George, Elliot Lazar, Rafael Petardi, Vitaliy Demens, James Gracie, Dmitry Chepovetsky, Kis Yurij, Aleks Paunovic, Vlad Stokanic, Alex Kudrytsky, Cory Chetyrbok, Nazariy Demkowicz, Bradley Sawatzky, Ruslan Rusin, Eugene Lipinski, Vitali Makarov
Written by: Scott B. Smith, based on a story by Scott B. Smith, Stephen Hamel
Directed by: Matthew Ross
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, language, some violence and drug use
Running Time: 104
Date: 07/13/2018
IMDB

Siberia (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

White Russian

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

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.

In Siberia, American diamond merchant Lucas Hill (Keanu Reeves) travels to St. Petersburg, Russia, to meet his partner Pyotr and then sell a collection of twelve, exceedingly rare blue diamonds to a dangerous underworld type, Boris Volkov (Pasha D. Lychnikoff). But Pyotr has disappeared, along with the diamonds.

A clue brings Lucas to Siberia, where he wanders into a neighborhood cafe 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, he 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 could not have foreseen.

Written by the talented Scott B. Smith (A Simple Plan, The Ruins), Siberia has the advantage of plunking the viewer right in the middle of a story that has been going on for a while; it's a little like spy movies from the 1960s and 70s. The hero — 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 Katya character is more than just a tacked-on romantic interest. The relationship 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, more interested in what makes these characters tick than in who gets the diamonds or who wins the shootout. As in that movie, he 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. (Lucas has failed to pack warm outerwear and must wear his city-approved overcoat in the icy climate.) A snowy climax in the woods has the power to leave viewers chilled to the bone.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray release includes a short (6:42) behind-the-scenes featurette, including interviews with Reeves and others. Image quality is fine, though, given the frozen, gray-blue-green locations, doesn't exactly pop. Audio is strong, with a 5.1 DTS mix. There are optional Spanish or English SDH subtitles, plus trailers at startup, and a digital copy of the movie.

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