Film Review: Siberia

Director Matthew Ross’ thriller Siberia offers a suitably engaging first half. The second half derailment makes for an ultimately unsatisfying film. 

Lucas Hill, an American diamond trader, travels to Russia to negotiate a deal to sell rare diamonds to a Russian businessman. When his contact goes missing, Lucas finds himself in Siberia trying to salvage the deal…

With its stylised opening credits and score, Siberia appears to ape Cold War thrillers of an earlier era. Indeed the elements are present; an American with secretive business in Russia, a missing contact, and a shadowy underworld. Unfortunately these aspects do not combine in an appealing fashion. 

Matthew Ross’ film concentrates on an American hoping to sell rare diamonds to business contacts in Russia. The film sets up the mystery of the missing contact, sending protagonist Lucas Hill on a mission to find him and salvage the deal. Screenwriter Scott B. Smith and Ross do not give too much away at first, with a secretive protagonist with a limited timeframe. 

There is sufficient mystery in the first half of the film to keep viewers engaged. It is unclear whether why the contact is missing, and if indeed he is a red herring. The narrative takes Lucas from Saint Petersburg to an unforgiving Siberian town. The threat here seems palpable, and feeds into the thriller format. 

As the narrative progresses, the film becomes less enjoyable. The burgeoning relationship between Lucas and Katya never feels authentic. Some of the occurrences in the second half of the film seem nonsensical. There does not seem to be a good enough reason for Lucas to go back once he is safe, save for the fact the film has not had its climax. Every development pushes at plausibility. 

Those hoping for action will be disappointed. Although the finale of Siberia does offer a shootout, this is not delivered with any finesse. The character development of Lucas is unconvincing; he simply does not seem smart enough to do what he is doing. Keanu Reeves is in monosyllabic mode, but there is no fault to attribute to him here. Ana Ularu is perfectly adequate as Katya. Both her and Lucas are surrounded by caricatures. 

Siberia hints strongly at a Cold War thriller, but does not deliver the goods. A disappointing watch.

Siberia is released in cinemas and on Digital HD on 16th November 2018.

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