Film Review: ‘Siberia’

Variety | 7/9/2018 | Andrew Barker
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Matthew Ross’ “Siberia” is the rare film involving diamond smuggling, international intrigue, double-crosses and Russian gangsters that might have actually been better off jettisoning all of those elements. Starring Keanu Reeves as Lucas Hill, an American diamond dealer who winds up in a remote corner of Siberia trying to salvage a botched deal, the film tries to use its b-movie framework as a jumping-off point into the sort of bleak romanticism that has powered auteurist thrillers from “The Conformist” to “The American.” But in the end, it can never decide what kind of film it wants to be, drifting into drab formlessness when it needs to find moments of poetry, and reverting to dull clichés when it wants to indulge its thriller instincts, winding up as frosty and uninviting as its setting.

Reeves has always been an excellent if idiosyncratic actor, but his highly specific range can turn into a weakness when he’s misused, as he is here. Quiet and internal as ever, but never given the opportunity to draw on his zenlike stillness or physicality, Reeves struggles to find much of a center in his hazily-drawn character. We know that he has a wife, played by Molly Ringwald, who appears in exactly two scenes, one via FaceTime. He clearly has some sort of combat training and a facility with spy-craft, if the numerous shots of him setting up new burner phones are anything to go by. He also speaks Russian, and tends to conceal this ability until the precise moment that he can make a “gotcha” reveal. Beyond that, he’s a blank canvas.

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We first meet up with him in St. Petersburg, where he’s arrived to rendezvous with his partner Pyotr to sell a cache of ludicrously expensive blue diamonds to a depraved Russian heavy named...
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