Siberia (15) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Matthew Ross, US, 2018, 100 mins, in English and Russian with subtitles 

Cast:  Keanu Reeves, Ana Ularu, Molly Ringwald  

Review by Carol Allen


Siberia is a would be thriller which largely fails to thrill.  

Keanu Reeves plays Lucas Hill, a diamond dealer who travels to St Petersburg to meet up with his business partner Pyotr and sell some rare diamonds – diamonds of somewhat murky origin, it is implied, though it is never clear why that is so.  Pyotr however has disappeared under mysterious circumstances and there are some very menacing Russian types with names like Boris and Viktor, who want the diamonds and want them now.

Lucas negotiates a short stay of execution and then moves on to a remote town in Siberia (covering a distance of some two and quarter thousand miles in one quick edit) in search of Pyotr’s brother, who might know where he is.  While there he drops into a local café for a quick drink and rescues the waitress Katya (Ana Ularu) from the attentions of a couple of drunken locals, who then beat him up.  Katya takes him in, offers to help him in his mission and before you say “vodka pozhaluysta”, they’re having sex, Lucas is going on bear hunts with her brother and he seems to have forgotten all about his mission, not to mention his wife Gabby, played by Molly Ringwald in but two short scenes – which is a bit of a waste.

The menacing Russians do of course eventually make another appearance and there is a bit of gunplay action towards the end but for most of its length the film is a character study, which never lets us get to know much about its main character.  Reeves’ stillness on screen can be an asset in some roles but here he has little to work with.  He has three expressions – impassive, a bit worried and the occasional rather charming smile.  We know he speaks Russian, but he tends to keep that quiet when it suits him.  We know he is married, though learn little about that marriage and he seems to have no qualms of conscience about indulging in a bit of Russian extra marital.  And he seems quite adept with swapping mobile phone sim cards around and knows how to use a gun.  And that’s about it.

Ana Ularu makes the most of her rather cliché role of Lucas’s love interest and looks as though she would be rather good in a better role.   And Siberia looks suitably cold and hostile.  The only conclusion we can draw from the film however is beware of doing deals with dodgy Russians.

A pity.   There is a potentially good film in here trying to get out.  Unfortunately director Matthew Ross and screenwriter Scott B. Smith fail to share it with us.