Film Review: Siberia

Diamond trader runs into a Russian mob in a dank, uninvolving thriller.
Specialty Releases

Director Matthew Ross does the near-impossible in Siberia: He turns a Keanu Reeves vehicle about sex, diamonds and the Russian mob into a dreary, endless slog.

Ross gained favorable notices for his 2016 erotic suspenser Frank & Lola, while Reeves has been riding a career resurgence after two John Wick hits. Siberia finds them struggling to make sense of the simplest B-movie situations.

Lucas Hill, the antihero Reeves plays here, is a lot like Wick, only with a dull backstory and none of Wick's physical or mental skills. He's a married jewel merchant who fools around with women and smugglers, and is still surprised when he gets burned by them. As Siberia begins, he's in the middle of a diamond deal in St. Petersburg that has attracted the interest of several unsavory types.

The opening scenes, with Hill drawn deeper and deeper into Russia to track down Pyotr, a business partner who may be cheating him, manage to build some stealthy tension. Hill stands out in the monotonous Siberian countryside, a sitting duck for thugs and crooks as well as barmaid Katya (Ana Ularu).

Katya's relatives beat Hill up when he flirts with her, and later take him on a hunting trip that turns sour. But mostly what Hill does is talk to Pyotr's voicemail and put off Russian mobster Boris Volkov (Pasha D. Lychnikoff), who's after the now-missing diamonds.

He and Katya also bed in soporific sex scenes that further drain energy from the film. It's almost a relief when he flies back to St. Petersburg to meet with Boris. But when Katya shows up, and Boris demands sex from her as well as diamonds, the movie takes a turn towards nihilism from which it never recovers. There's a chase, a reckoning of sorts, a shootout and an ending, but they can't jolt this corpse back to life.

Reeves has always had a weakness for turgid genre pieces (Feeling Minnesota, Sweet November), and with Siberia he has a good chance of depleting a lot of the good will he's built up with John Wick. But it's unlikely enough people will see Siberia, either in theatres or streaming, to have an impact on his career either way.