Siberia

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Siberia Movie Poster Image
Slow but thoughtful, mature character-based thriller.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 104 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No clear takeaway here except that characters tend to pay a high price for slightly illicit dealings. But it's not entirely clear whether these activities were premeditated or simply happened by accident.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lucas Hill is a pro; he's skilled, knowledgeable, and polite, and doesn't expect everyone to speak English with him (he speaks Russian and is the opposite of an "ugly American"). Yet he becomes involved in shady dealings, and while he sometimes hesitates, he always goes ahead with them. He also cheats on his wife.

Violence

Guns and shooting. Characters are shot and killed. Blood spurts. Character is beaten up. A dog is accidentally shot during a hunting trip. Frozen dead body.

Sex

Several graphic sex scenes between a married man and a woman who's not his wife. Thrusting, grinding, and moaning. Naked female breasts and bottom are seen. Man-on-woman oral sex. Two women begin to perform oral sex on two men. Couple shown in bathtub together. A man prepares to unzip his pants to reveal his penis to a woman.

Language

Several uses of "f--k" or "f---ing." Also uses of "motherf----r," "penis," "hell."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main characters use cocaine in one scene. Frequent social drinking: vodka, whiskey, etc. Some drunkenness. Cigars.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Siberia is a mature thriller starring Keanu Reeves as a diamond merchant who finds himself in a tough situation. It includes some graphic sexual material: A couple has grinding, thrusting, moaning sex; there are two scenes with oral sex; and naked female breasts and bottom are seen. Violence is also an issue: Characters handle and shoot guns, people are shot and killed, and there are blood spurts. A character is beaten up, and a dog is accidentally shot. A man is shown to be cheating on his wife. Language includes many uses of "f--k" or "f---ing." Characters frequently drink socially, sometimes to excess, and main characters snort cocaine in one scene. The movie is slow and mature, but for some older teens and adults, it could be moody, fascinating viewing.

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What's the story?

In SIBERIA, American diamond merchant Lucas Hill (Keanu Reeves) travels to St. Petersburg, Russia, to meet his partner, Pyotr, and sell a collection of 12 exceedingly rare blue diamonds to Boris Volkov (Pasha D. Lychnikoff), a dangerous underworld type. But Pyotr has disappeared, along with the diamonds. A clue brings Lucas to Siberia, where he wanders into a neighborhood café and meets beautiful bartender Katya (Ana Ularu). Despite having a wife (Molly Ringwald) at home, Lucas is drawn to Katya -- and she to him. Coming up empty in Siberia, Lucas reluctantly heads back to St. Petersburg, where he finds more clues left by Pyotr. Unfortunately, one of them involves Katya, and Lucas inadvertently pulls her into a world of danger he couldn't have foreseen.

Is it any good?

Slow but intelligent, moody, and mature, this thriller isn't exactly thrilling, yet it's hypnotic in the way it zooms in on little messy, unexpected human behaviors. It's all about the gray areas. Written by the talented Scott B. Smith (A Simple Plan, The Ruins), Siberia has the advantage of plunking viewers right in the middle of a story that's been going on for a while; in that way, it's a little like spy movies from the 1960s and '70s. Lucas Hill -- played by Reeves at his reassuring, man-of-few-words best -- is a longtime veteran, an expert at his job. As he deftly handles guns or assembles untraceable, disposable phones, his blank expression could mean anything. It's fascinating to watch him to find out more.

Moreover, the character of Katya is more than just a tacked-on romantic interest. Her relationship with Lucas is deliberately weighted with danger and guilt and feeds directly into the story. Director Matthew Ross uses the same patient, thoughtful approach he brought to his fine Frank & Lola; he's more interested in what makes these characters tick than in who gets the diamonds or wins the shoot-out. As in that movie, Ross seems drawn to interactions between two characters in foreign spaces. The Russian locales are especially effective, with St. Petersburg as the grayish, modern half of the story and Siberia as the freezing wilderness. A snowy climax in the woods has the power to leave viewers chilled to the bone.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Siberia's violence. How much is shown, and how important is it to the story? Could the movie have gotten away with less? Did it need more?

  • How is sex portrayed? What values are imparted? How does it change the impact/meaning of the sex scenes that the main character is married and cheating?

  • How are alcohol and drugs portrayed? Are they made to look cool or glamorous? Are they abused? Are there consequences for using them? Why does that matter?

  • Lucas Hill is shown to be a pro, but is he a hero? What are his admirable qualities? What are his faults? What makes him interesting?

  • How are interactions between the American character and the non-Americans depicted?

Movie details

For kids who love thrills

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