Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Archangel: Grade B



Daniel Craig, Yekaterina Rednikov. Dir=Jon Jones.

An American history professor, DC, gives a lecture in Moscow about Stalin’s pathological genocides. An old man on the street tips him off to the existence of Stalin’s hidden personal diary. DC dashes all over Russia in the winter without a proper coat or gloves, money or visa, evading secret police at every turn to find the diary, which reveals that Stalin had a son. Even more police pursue in helicopters, humvees and SWAT team convoys, but he locates Joe Jr, who is grown, looks like the old man, and plans to re-establish a Stalinist totalitarian regime. The sudden and predictable ending does not address the interesting theme of whether Russia today wants, needs, or is, in fact, a totalitarian regime. The plot, like that of the Davinci Code, assumes we care if The Man had offspring, but ignores the question of what that would mean for contemporary society. Also like The Code, the story moves from one incident to another at random, plot rather than character driven, so it gets cartoony after a half hour of its 2 hour length. It looks like it was shot in Russia and the Zhivago-esque scenery and sets are impressive, although the music falls short. DC and especially YR give competent performances, but the film is supposed to be a head trip and a kinetic thriller, not an artistic display. As such, it is engaging, though not ultimately satisfying.

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