Siberia is a benign romantic action thriller with routine action and not much romance, which is pretty much what you can usually expect from anything with Keanu Reeves, a cast of Russians, and a walk-on by Molly Ringwald. Even in a summer of forgettable losers, this one disappears without a trace.
No alleged action thriller about international intrigue that stars Keanu Reeves is likely to land on anybody’s A list, but Siberia doesn’t even try. This time the poker-faced stoic plays an adventurer named Lucas Hill who travels to St. Petersburg (Russia, you know) to sell a cache of blue diamonds from South Africa worth 50 million dollars to the Russian mob. When he gets there, the man who is delivering the gems has disappeared, so he moves on to the snowy wastes of a mining town in Siberia to find him.
Instead of action, he hooks up with a waitress in an all-night diner, gets beaten up by local toughs, and rescued by the girl. They have sex with their clothes on, he wakes up the next morning and makes French toast, and just sort of hangs around. The audience hangs around too, waiting for something to happen. Threatened with mutilation and death by both the mob and the girl’s violent brothers, his brows furrow. So much for acting. Instead, the girl’s brothers take him on a bear hunt. Everything is tenuous, including a performance by Keanu Reeves that borders on catatonia. Just because he stopped shaving doesn’t mean he can suddenly act.
After he finally removes his Calvins, Siberia has more sex scenes than any previous Keanu Reeves movie, but the girl (Romanian actress Ana Ularu) is the only one who shows any flesh. Molly Ringwald plays his wife back home in the U.S., shown in only two brief scenes via Skype and long distance cell phone. Despite his limitations, Keanu’s love scenes with Ms. Ularu are the rare stretches when the film threatens to come alive. Siberia looks properly deadly (no vacation destination or travel brochures here) but the film was shot in Canada. The romance grows cold while the plot grows incoherent, but nothing works out satisfactorily, including the finale, which looks like it was pasted on in post-editing with a Post-It.
Formless and meandering, Siberia is a film without much purpose or promise. The direction, by Matthew Ross, looks phoned in from a toll booth in the Ukraine. The screenplay, by Scott B. Smith, who wrote the vastly superior A Simple Plan, is incomprehensible and abbreviated. One saving grace: a lively performance by a Russian gangster named Boris (aren’t they all?), played with grinning relish by Pasha D. Lychnikoff, who has put in some memorable time as assorted rapists, smugglers and white slave traders on TV shows like Law and Order SVU. Needless to say, things end badly for all concerned in Siberia.