35 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Robert Harris's bestseller gets the life sucked out of it.,
This review is from: Archangel [DVD] (DVD)
Everything about this production is disappointing. The direction is uninspired and ploddingly paced, the script is leaden and dull, and the leads are totally miscast. I have no problem with characters being changed significantly from a book, but the problem here is that we get the same characters as in the novel, but with actors totally unsuited to them.
Daniel Craig is a fine actor, but whoever thought of him as a world-weary, alcoholic American university professor who went to college in Moscow during the Soviet days is insane. He's far too young, too energetic and too physically fit for the role. And why on earth didn't they change his character's nationality at least?
Then there's the female lead. She may be a great actress in Russian, for all I know, but her English is incomprehensible most of the time, and she seems to have one all-purpose facial expression - annoyed. The chemistry between her and Craig seems to reach negative levels, as if they aren't even in the same film. She actually comes across as far more engaging when interviewed in the short featurette on the DVD.
The rest of the Russian actors also suffer from a total inability to convincingly speak English. The only exceptions are the handful of Latvian actors playing Russians. Their English is fine, but with their sing-songy Scandinavian accents they sound more like The Swedish Chef from The Muppets than Russians. They are hardly menacing, as they're meant to be.
The flashback portions of the film end up playing as some bizarre story of "Stalin In Love," and verge on the ridiculous, as the dictator is charmed by the innocence of a country girl he sees in a parade. Meanwhile, the plot holes are numerous, the biggest being the inexplicable fact that Craig's character speaks fluent Russian, but then, every now and then, seems to forget this fact, and depend on others to translate for him. Huh?
I expect big things from Mr. Craig; he's a major talent. One day this will deservedly be but a footnote on his bio.