David Cronenberg has never been regarded as anything approaching a mainstream or accessible filmmaker, and it’s telling that one of his directorial efforts to strike a chord with critics and audiences for being relatively easy to digest by his standards is still an often-harrowing crime story.
Viggo Mortensen landed an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor after fully dedicating himself to his performance as Nikolai Luzhin in Eastern Promises, the ruthless and enigmatic enforcer who has strong ties to one of London’s most notorious and feared crime families.
Meanwhile, Naomi Watts’ midwife stumbles upon incriminating evidence that has the potential to bring the family down for good, which sets in motion a chain of events that yield blood, death, double-crossing, revenge, retribution and almost everything in between, all while Vincent Cassel’s loose cannon Kirill Semyonovich causes his own unique brand of chaos.
A History of Violence and Eastern Promises saw Cronenberg and Mortensen partner up in quick succession to deliver a pair of hugely accomplished genre pieces, and arguably two of the best that the subgenre had to offer in the mid-2000s. HBO Max subscribers clearly agree, with the latter having been holding steady on the platform’s Top 10 most-watched list for well over a week, as per FlixPatrol.