Offering a smorgasbord of violence with liberal sprinklings of sex, Russian import "Alien Girl" delivers wearisome brutality but little finesse.
Offering a smorgasbord of violence with liberal sprinklings of sex, Russian import “Alien Girl” delivers wearisome brutality but little finesse. Set in the Ukraine in an early-1990s period of rampant Russian gangsterism, and based on a graphic novel by former racketeer Vladimir “Adolfych” Nesterenko, “Girl” is directed by tyro helmer Anton Bormatov with neither dynamism nor ingenuity. Despite Natalia Romanycheva’s intriguing perf as a manipulative femme fatale, the pic’s concept is simply too old-fashioned to stir much interest in limited release.When a captured gang member threatens to crack under police torture, gaunt, black-clad crime kingpin Rasp (Eugene Mundun) dispatches trusted henchman Kid (Kirill Poluhin) and his trio of stereotypical underlings — hotheaded young Whiz (Eugene Tkachuk), stolid slow-thinking Beef (Anatoly Otradnov) and jittery Booger (Alexander Golubkov) — to the Czech Republic to kidnap their imprisoned comrade’s sister Angela, aka “Alien” (Romanycheva), thus ensuring his silence. Swaggering their way into Prague, the quartet, immediately recognizable as Russian thugs by their trademark leather jackets and arrogant lack of couth, are cautioned to blend in. Strong-arming a succession of terrified hookers and drugged-out pimps, they manage to locate their prey, held by a band of well-armed gypsies, and spirit her away in a flurry of machine-gun fire, leaving behind a gravely wounded Booger. But the film proves faithful to its title’s Ridley Scott reference. Once Angela is brought into the fold, she poisons the gang from within, pitting its members against one another and seducing Whiz into betraying his pals in traditional noir fashion. Though she often personally administers the coup de grace, this potentially “La Femme Nikita”-like figure never ranks as a stand-alone action heroine. Thesping is solid throughout: Poluhin inventively inhabits the space between Kid’s superior experience and his loyal identification with his men, while Tkachuk unerringly locates a romantic side to sociopathic Whiz. Romanycheva’s ironic detachment adds much-needed humor to her machinations, while her unself-conscious nudity adds a touch of class to the overall sleaze. Unfortunately, though, none of the actors can impart much excitement to the pic’s generic setpieces. In direct contrast with Aleksei Balabanov’s “Brother,” that 1997 high point of Russian action moviemaking, action showdowns are staged with dispatch but no brio. Instead, helmer Bormatov tends to favor fixed poses — striking compositions that constrict movement and lean toward freezing scenes into comicbook panels — harking back, one supposes, to the film’s source. Tech credits are pro.