Set in contemporary Moscow and the frozen northern town of Archangel, the drama revisits the stark landscape of Communist Russia and takes place over four days in the life of academic Fluke Kelso. His fateful meeting with a former Stalinist bodyguard leads to the uncovering of one of the world's most dangerous and best kept secrets. He is led unwittingly through murder and intrigue towards his own personal "Holy Grail" - Joseph Stalin's secret legacy - a legacy that could change the face of Russian history forever. Written by
One of the greatest pleasures of Archangel is the opportunity to see Daniel Craig at his best.
Archangel, an excellent action/adventure story, was filmed in Moscow and Latvia and originally produced as a two part BBC-TV series. Unlike many US adaptations of serialized TV shows, the transition between the episodes is seamless and the ensuing two-hour drama stands in good stead as an integrated whole.
The result is an outstanding motion picture. The cinematography is impressive, the plot is fascinating, and the acting, by both supporting actors and principals is first rate - including what may be Daniel Craig's finest recent performance.
Filmed under what were obviously frequently challenging conditions of rain, snow and cold, Archangel manages to capture the bitter chill and desolation of the countryside in winter as well as the grit and grandeur of Moscow.
As the plot unfolds it relates the tale of a Western historian, Kelso played by Craig who attends a conference in Moscow only to discover a mystery and a conspiracy dating back to Stalin's death in 1953. His life in danger, Kelso teams up with a young Russian woman, Zinaida - brilliantly portrayed by Yekaterina Rednikova to solve the mystery and attempt to foil the plot.
Although the story line sounds generally similar to "the Da Vinci Code", Archangel more credibly dramatizes a profound conflict in values between traditionalists and progressives in this case, in a society where socialism was once the opiate of the intelligentsia. In that respect it is much like the earlier Russia House, which starred Sean Connery as the western visitor enmeshed in a dangerous conspiracy and internal conflict in the former Soviet Union.
To one who lived through the cold war, Archangel does a marvelous job integrating current events with flashbacks - of depicting the complex ways in which the Russian people did and still do react to Stalin a proved mass murderer - with fear, with hatred, with admiration and respect, and even with love.
The story doesn't require too extreme a suspension of disbelief, and the portrayal of the Moscow streets and Russian people, rural and urban, powerful or impoverished, opportunists and petty bureaucrats, progressives who long for change and traditionalist who seek a return to an earlier era, is quite realistic.
One of the greatest pleasures of Archangel is the opportunity to see Daniel Craig at his best. He brings wit, charm and intelligence to the role of Kelso in a way that he was either unable or not allowed to do in either Casino Royale or Munich.
Craig is obviously a very talented actor and in Archangel, delivers a performance that far outshines his work in Casino Royale as well as that of the other Bond Sean Connery in a similar role in the aforementioned Russia House.
All in all, a great way to spend two hours and I'd watch it again
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