Siberia is a film that will disappoint those wanting an intriguing thriller, but if you stick around for a doomed romance plot, then there is something worthwhile here. Sadly there isn’t much else to grasp onto.
Lucas Hill (Keanu Reeves), an American diamond trader, travels to Russia to negotiate a deal involving some rare gems that he plans to sell to the oligarch Boris Volkov (Pasha D. Lychnikoff). When his contact for the diamonds goes missing, and he gets on the wrong side of Volkov, Hill finds himself stranded in the frozen wastes of Siberia, with only a local bar owner Katya (Ana Ularu), to help him face the deadly situation.
Right off the bat, those expecting a John Wick style Russian jaunt will come out of this a tad disappointed. By a tad, I mean a lot. This is much more a grim romance picture than it is a thriller. The only bit of action we get in the entire piece is in the last few minutes, and let it be said, Reeves Lucas Hill is no John Wick. In the end, this is a film that doesn’t quite seem to know what it wants to be and doesn’t have the confidence to go entirely in with the cat and mouse thriller aspect nor the doomed romance narrative. Siberia gets tangled in with itself and flounders desperately because of it.
The worst thing about Siberia? Everyone may be decent to good in their performances here, yet the script’s utter lack of urgency causes us to struggle to care for Lucas and Katya. Anytime Lucas is not around Volkov, the tension is immediately punctured out of the film, and the longer they are apart, the longer the deflation continues. Due to the abilities of Reeves, Lychnikoff and Ularu are electric in a scene in St Petersburg when Hill tries to sway things his way but makes a costly error for him and Katya.
With the tension and threat about the diamonds pushed to the background, we allow the romance of Lucas and Katya to grow, and you believe their lust-filled if ultimately doomed, relationship. Yet again, narrative inclusions get in the way. While it is always good to see Molly Ringwald on screen, there is no reason for her to exist in the film. Lucas and Katya’s dramatic tension comes from them merely being from different countries and the likelihood that Lucas isn’t going to hang around in Siberia, and it is equally unlikely that their romance could survive enough to make it to both leaving for America.
So while we wait for Volkov’s story to come back around for the final act, we spend most of the middle of the film having Katya’s family and friends try and keep the two apart with not so subtle threats. This is perfectly fine if that was the point of the film, but it isn’t. We are meant to care about where the remaining diamonds are and hope that they are found. So intermittent scenes of Lucas on the phone or meeting with friends who may know information does nothing but slowly advance a story that is stalling far too much.
The love story is where the film excites. This will not be a happy ending, and both know this, so when their sexual encounters become so much more emotional for different reasons, you believe it. Then, back to phone calls and all momentum is lost again, and when possible, overt use of grimness envelopes the film for some reason.
As mentioned, until the last 5 minutes, the film sleepwalks around and takes what could be a fascinating love story and makes it a dull crime thriller. This is a film that tries to have its cake and eat it, and sadly, it promptly throws up after doing too much. Leaving us with nothing but regret.
Siberia is okay; it isn’t great nor terrible, it is watchable, and sometimes that is enough for a film like this. Will you remember the details of the movie within a week? Most likely not, but if asked what you thought, most likely you will just say that it was alright. A film that is as middle of the road as they come.
Signature Entertainment presents Siberia on Amazon Prime Video on 23rd April.
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