Review: Siberia

5 10

PLOT: A diamond merchant (Keanu Reeves) engaged in a shifty, dangerous deal with a Russian oligarch, falls for a café owner (Ana Ularu) in a small Siberian town.

REVIEW: There’s a reason why Keanu Reeves’s latest thriller, SIBERIA, is getting such a low-key release, despite a sudden JOHN WICK-fueled comeback that’s been strong enough that Entertainment Studios shelled out big bucks for his upcoming thriller, REPLICAS. By contrast, this is being treated no differently that something you might nowadays see a past their prime legend like John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, or John Cusack show up in.

To be fair to both Reeves and director Matthew Ross, this is more legitimate than a lot of the Z-grade thrillers taking up space on the VOD queue. I imagine that it was initially intended as a serious slice of film noir, boasting a script by the well-regarded Scott B. Smith (A SIMPLE PLAN), while Ross himself is coming off the decent Sundance romantic drama FRANK & LOLA.

Had that movie’s lead, Michael Shannon, starred, SIBERIA might have worked better than it does. While a wonderful guy, and a true icon to boot, Reeves has a range, and SIBERIA makes for an uncomfortable fit for the actor. It’s strange seeing him star in a sexually driven melodrama, which is maybe why the studio seems to be selling this as an action-thriller, something it’s distinctly not. He may be sporting the same JOHN WICK haircut and beard (along with some sharp threads), but outside of a quick climactic action scene, this is low on the carnage we’ve come to expect from Reeves.

If SIBERIA were more effective as either a thriller or a romance, this lack of action wouldn’t have mattered, but Reeves, despite clearly doing his best in the role (including showing off a mastery of Russian for long stretches of dialogue) just isn’t that interesting to watch in so low-key a film. His chemistry with much younger co-star Ana Ularu is far from combustible, making it tough to invest in their plight as they try to navigate the treacherous wheeling and dealing that puts their lives in danger (Molly Ringwald cameos as his wife back home).

Amusingly, SIBERIA, while set in Russia, was shot on Winnipeg, although tons of Russian character actors have been imported, saving us from any dodgy accents. Of them, frequent baddie Pasha D. Lychnikoff seems to be having a whale of a time as the coked-up villain, which itself is a bit of a problem as he totally overwhelms the laid-back Reeves when they’re on-screen together. As a result, Reeves comes off as strangely passive, even in what’s supposed to be a heavy scene where Lynchnikoff makes a grotesque demand of Ularu during a night of partying.

In the end, SIBERIA is a disposable VOD thriller that was probably an attempt at something more that didn’t quite work out. Reeves is simply miscast in a part that seems ill-tailored to his distinct screen presence, but at least everyone involved tried to make something good, which demands a certain degree of respect, even if the finished film is more often than not quite tedious.

Source: JoBlo.com



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