Anyone who has seen Balabanov's eerie OF FREAKS AND MEN may be shocked by this very straightforward thriller about a young army deserter who becomes an efficient killer. Its tale of betrayal is reminiscent of ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, and Danila is also very much like The Man With No Name, a motiveless stranger pitting two enemies against each other until they are wiped out. The opening sequence (sparse forest, castle, robed woman, intimations of S&M) suggest Gothic,as does a certain burial sequence, but, try as we might, we cannot get away from the sheer amoral banality: a gloriously unneurotic hero, a sweet boy who does everything people of his age should (loitering, discman, drugs, concerts, parties etc.) and just happens to be handy with a gun (he is also the only worker in this former worker's paradise).
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