Review: ‘Siberia’ Tries Hard, But In Vain

In case you are habitual of watching Keanu Reeves in his wickedly twisted character roles, with no-non sense attitude, ‘Siberia’, may turn out to be a “not so good” experience for you.

With films like ’47 Ronin’ (2013) to his credit, Reeves contribution to the non-commercial movies and the independent cinema movement is well-known among both his fans and the Hollywood fraternity. ‘Siberia’ is one of his those films which defines his multi-genre acting choices, ranging from sci-fi ‘The Matrix’ (1999) to the recent ‘John Wick Chapters’ (2014 and 2017).

‘Siberia’ has a dark tone in its cinematography and music, but it fails to reflect that quality in its story, and certainly not in acting performances. The film tells the story of Lucas Hill, a diamond merchant cum smuggler, who travels to Russia to execute a trade of rare blue diamonds. The film then explores (unsuccessfully) Lucas’ struggles to get himself out a dubious situation when his deal is jeopardised, while he gets romantically involved with Katya (Ana Ularu).

The primary factors ‘Siberia’ fails to address are the importance of character development and plotline. The film’s screenplay showcases scenarios to which try to enlighten the origin of Reeves’ character; it fails to connect the dots on how Reeves has ended up in the situation he’s in. Also, the film also neglects the centre of the film’s synopsis which revolves around the “diamond deal” and keeps this part to the minimum. The story does not care to explore the character build-up of both the protagonist and antagonist of the film and leaves it to the audience to assess the parts of the film which are very relevant and significant to the plot.

Reeves is an excellent actor, and though he tries to build the character of Hill throughout the film, the film’s jumbled up screenplay and follow-up on the story doesn’t give Hill a room to grow. Not just Hill, the film underuse the supporting characters as well, especially that of Vincent (played by James Gracie) and Boris Volkov (played by Pasha D. Lychnikoff), who surprisingly is portrayed as the antagonist of the film. Keanu Reeves has a huge fan following, and the efforts that ‘Siberia’ makes to survive comes from his part only, but the charisma he has portrayed in his recent characters does not show up in Lucas Hill.

‘Siberia’, which got Saban Films as a distributor just two months before its theatrical release at the Cannes Film Festival, is marketed as a romantic-crime thriller, consisting elements of romance, sex, and relationship, growing from the beginning of the film in a very “unusual” manner. As the film moves ahead with the relationship between Katya and Lucas, the crime and thrill part of the genre diminishes and then vanishes till the end. Though the dark visualisation, wicked background score, and the suspense build-up in ‘Siberia’ raises certain expectations among the viewer, it fails to live up to them as the film ends unexpectedly, thus, killing the excitement.

Moreover, the film is the directorial creation of Matthew Ross and is penned by Scott Smith. Ross previously directed only one film, ‘Frank & Lola’ (2016), which was quite acclaimed and earned significant praise for its acting performances and exploration of sexual jealousy through eroticism. On the other hand, Scott Smith is an Academy-Award nominated screenwriter, whose adaptations of his novels, ‘A Simple Plan’ and ‘The Ruins’ are critically acclaimed films and has gained highest praise among the other films of their respective genre. When joined by Keanu Reeves, you don’t expect something like ‘Siberia’ to be the outcome of their following efforts.

Without a substantial plot and characters, ‘Siberia’ disappoints the viewers and that too after offering them a perception of a good watch. What it does is that it gives you a hope of a chilling crime-filled thriller, but slowly fades it away as you keep tracking the 104-minute running time of the film. The intense tension and ferocity as showcased in the film’s trailer are indeed, not depicted with the required profoundness in the final film.

Despite Reeves’ presence and huge potential to make a strong and entertaining crime thriller, ‘Siberia’s strengths are massively overshadowed by its weak story, character build-up, and negligence towards the centre of the plot.

Rating: 2/5