|Even his fist wants to hit him.|
Moscow police officer Arkady Renko (William Hurt) is called to a crime scene in Gorky Park, which is kind of like Moscow's Central Park (I think...there's ice skating, anyway). Three murder victims have been found, all shot dead in the chest and mouth, and all three are missing their faces and fingers. That fits the description of KGB-type killings, where they just make people disappear; Renko knows this and assumes that the KGB will take the investigation away from him at the first opportunity, to "investigate" it themselves. The KGB does show up with suspicious immediacy, but they let Renko keep the case for some reason.
With shattered teeth and no fingerprints, Renko enlists the aid of a professor (
In the due course of his investigation, Renko meets an American detective (Brian Dennehy), who is in town to investigate his brother's recent disappearance. The two warily agree to share some knowledge, which leads Renko to a tentative ID on the victims, which leads him to a beautiful Russian woman (Joanna Pacula) and an American sable fur importer (Lee Marvin). The deeper Renko digs, the more he finds out about people in high places. And in Soviet Russia, knowing too much about important people is hazardous to your health. Maybe it's because he is devoted to his job, or maybe it's because he's falling in love with the girl, but Renko puts it all on the line to solve the case. All he needs to get all the pieces to fall into place are some identities for his victims, so he can figure out why they were killed...
|"Now witness the power of this fully armed and operational reconstructed face!"|
James Horner's score is worth mentioning. I'm no music major (my mother assumes from my childhood singing that I am tone deaf), but Horner did a great job amplifying the "something's wrong" feeling of the film. He used pretty standard musical score instruments, like strings, horns and percussion, but they were all discordant. It was an interesting way to supplement the story.
Michael Apted directed Gorky Park with what would have seemed like efficiency, if the film had been less than two hours. His focus was on the story, for the most part, and the story was told well enough. I appreciate his choice to not have the actors assume Russian accents (not everyone can pull off a Russian accent like Harrison Ford), although it makes the scene where Brian Dennehy is identified as an American by his voice seem a little silly. I wish Apted had put a little more flair into this movie, though. Procedurals are, by their nature, pretty cut-and-dry. This didn't feel like a mystery or a conspiracy, but like an especially long episode of Law and Order: Moscow. If Apted had played with the camera a little more, used some symbolism, or used some interesting establishing shots of Moscow every so often, this movie might feel like it is more than a police procedural.
Maybe that is my problem. I have seen so many police procedurals on American television that a film version just seems like overkill. The case doesn't seem that complicated when you watch it, and there is absolutely no question that Lee Marvin is a bad guy, so it's not like viewers are going to be surprised much by the story. Of course, the film is spiced up a little bit by having the eternally middle-aged William Hurt have a relationship with a Russian beauty, but even that is predictable. Of course the cop is going to fall for the beautiful witness, and of course the Russian woman in an American movie is going to be gorgeous, because all Russian women in American movies are gorgeous. It's not like that in real life, though; all those years of putting vodka in their cereal catches up with them eventually.
|Russian beauty, age 31|