Alien Girl -- Film Review

Don’t look for the Angelina Jolie remake of this lethargic Russian mob thriller anytime soon.?

When your crime lord is a crack addict named Rasp, and his flunkies have such self-explanatory names as Whiz, Kid, Beef, Jew and Chinaman, you’d be a fool to go looking for nuance. But is it too much to ask for a little character development and a touch of humor between the infrequent set pieces?

The title character in Russian director Anton Bormatov’s debut feature, Alien Girl, is Angela (Natalia Romanycheva). Initially, it appears she got her nickname because she and her brother felt like aliens in the orphanage where they grew up. But later, after her reputation as a hardboiled killer has spread, it’s revealed as a nod to the Ridley Scott franchise when someone pegs her as a dragon with acid for blood who lays eggs in people.

Scripted by Sergey Sokolyuk from a graphic novel by Vladimir “Adolfych” Nesterenko (a former organized crime gang member in the ’90s, now a popular blogger), the plot hinges on Angela’s retrieval from Prague, where she has been sold as a sex slave to unsavory gypsies. Ukrainian thugs working for Rasp (Eugene Mundum) are dispatched to fetch her in order to exert influence over her brother, who threatens to name names in a mob trial. But Angela sows distrust among the posse, wiping out half of them while hooking up with the youngest and most volatile, Whiz (Eugene Tkachuk).

Those ingredients suggest entertainingly hyperviolent, Eurotrashy exploitation, and with its grimy visuals and preference for types over characters, the film does occasionally recall action thrillers from La Femme Nikitato The Transporter. But the borscht is a little flavorless. There’s insufficient suspense in the life-or-death stakes, sketchy plot detail in the gang clash that triggers the action and too little ambiguity in the intercharacter dynamics.

Romanycheva looks the part with her hacked-off hair and contemptuous pout, and her seduction scene on a moving train with Whiz packs heat. But she remains only a semi-intriguing central figure, not even introduced until a half-hour into the too-leisurely movie. There also are structural problems, like when Angela and Whiz go rogue with a bunch of allies who materialize out of nowhere.

Bormatov saves his playful impulses for the end titles, giving his lead actors photo credits on a mortuary slab as a cheesy Italian ’80s pop hit chirps about happiness. A hint of that spirit earlier might have made this drab genre piece more fun.
Opens: Friday, Dec. 17 (Paladin)
Production: Red Square, Profit, Fox International Production
Cast: Natalia Romanycheva, Eugene Tkachuk, Kirill Poluhin, Eugene Mundum, Anatoly Otradnov, Alexander Golubkov
Director: Anton Bormatov
Screenwriter: Sergey Sokolyuk
Based on the graphic novel by Vladimir “Adolfych” Nesterenko
Producers: Konstantin Ernst, Igor Tolstunov
Directors of photography: Dmitri Kuvshinov, Anastasiy Michailov
Production designers: Galia Sadarova, Oleg Uhov
Editor: Julia Batalova
Music: Yuri Dementev
Not rated, 100 minutes