UK Release Date: 16th November 2018
Runtime: 102 minutes
Director: Matthew Ross
Writer: Scott B Smith
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Ana Ularu, Pasha D Lychnikoff, Dmitry Chepovetsky, Rafael Petardi, Molly Ringwald
Synopsis: An American diamond trader travels to Russia in an attempt to track down his partner, who has gone missing in the midst of a big money deal with some very dangerous people.
The recent movie roles of Keanu Reeves are a strange bunch. On the one hand, there are roles to which his unique persona is perfectly suited (John Wick), but there are also many in which he’s a square peg in a hole that’s not just round, but located in a different time zone (Knock Knock). Such is the success of the former category that Reeves is now in a position where his involvement can usher a movie into cinemas. It’s that which gives us Siberia – a punishing experience for all involved.
Reeves is American diamond merchant Lucas, who is a fish out of water in St Petersburg, where he has travelled to meet business associate Pyotr. When he arrives at their designated meeting point, though, Pyotr has already left and is refusing to answer phone calls. Lucas has to deal with hostile buyer Volkov (Pasha D Lychnikoff) all by himself, before following Pyotr to the small Siberian town where he is apparently hiding until the heat dies down. Pyotr doesn’t surface, but Lucas decides to hang around and is drawn to cafe owner Katya (Ana Ularu), despite the fact he has a wife (Molly Ringwald) back in the US.
It’s clear from the very beginning that Siberia has no idea how to make its story interesting. During a supposedly tense meeting on a bridge late in the story, Reeves tells his associate that he has “watched too many spy films”, but the filmmakers don’t seem to have watched any. Where the thrills and intrigue of a movie like this should be found, there’s a void that is filled only with Reeves making mildly irritated phone calls to Pyotr – a character about whom we know so little that he can never be interesting.
Speaking of uninteresting, Reeves himself is desperately out of his depth here. Siberia is a film that’s as cold and inhospitable as its setting, but Reeves is not the right man to inject some energy into that world. He’s decidedly lacking in charisma here and his relationship with Ularu’s Russian woman fails to ever catch fire, including in some randomly inserted sex scenes that have Tommy Wiseau‘s awkward thrusting in The Room as their closest bedfellow. There’s also a scene of sexual assault that is just purely horrible in a way the context doesn’t even get near justifying.
This is a thriller that is defiantly unthrilling at every possible opportunity. Even the shootout finale in a foggy forest lacks any sort of invention or excitement. This is just a grey film full of grey people, with the emotional range of an ageing hamster. It simply doesn’t do anything right and suffers from a leading man who is entirely out of place in a movie that’s supposed to be an homage to Cold War thrillers, but actually seems never to have seen one.
Pop or Poop?
With the uncharismatic presence of a tired-looking Keanu Reeves at its centre, Siberia is a tepid trudge through a dreary story. It is a barren wasteland, in which thrills, emotions and entertainment are completely and utterly absent. This one is best avoided like the plague.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.