×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Toronto Film Review: ‘Break Loose’

Latest from director of Russian's 2010 Oscar submission, 'The Edge,' emphasizes style over substance.

With:

Alexey Mantsigyn, Artur Smolyaninov, Alexander Novyn, Artem Bystrov, Pavel Vorontsov, Vilma Kutavichute. (Russian dialogue)

Grungy, witty and savage, the Russian crime thrillerBreak Loose” entertains despite its ludicrously repetitive action and cliched story of the impossible love between a special forces cop and a gangster’s moll. Set in the final days of 1999 (and Boris Yeltsin), the film makes meager use of political subtext, but it doesn’t much matter given director Alexey Uchitel’s infectious love of borderline-goofy fight scenes, many of which are brilliantly choreographed. Though commercial prospects outside Russia appear limited, plenty of fests will forge ties with “Break Loose,” Uchitel’s first feature since “The Edge,” Russia’s Oscar entry from 2010.

To the extent that the film is a comedy, its running gag is the insatiable appetite for street violence among four old army buddies who now work for OMON, an elite police squad charged with curbing local protests and breaking up the scuffles of low-level thugs. Not content with the head-bashings they administer in their day jobs, fresh-faced Ger (Alexey Mantsigyn) and his pals — Lykov (Alexander Novyn), Shorokh (Pavel Vorontsov), and Grekh (Artem Bystrov) — favor looking for fights after hours as well. An early scene has the friends pummelling goons in the lobby of a bustling nightclub.

It’s at the club, owned by mob boss Boots (Artur Smolyaninov), where Ger first lays eyes on gorgeous Aglaya (Vilma Kutavichute), who’s dancing onstage. Hardly subtle, Uchitel tracks the camera slowly toward the gape-mouthed Ger to establish that he’s instantly smitten. Learning that his crush is Boots’ main squeeze doesn’t deter Ger in his efforts to bed Aglaya; if anything, it seems to turn him on even more. Climbing up a pole to a third-floor window to peep on Aglaya, Ger eventually succeeds in his lascivious aim, which naturally escalates the war between Boots’ crew and Ger’s.

Based on Zahkhar Prilepin’s novel “The Eight,” “Break Loose” has a curiously smeared, sludgy look that somehow adds to its appeal as a scrappy film noir. Countless fight scenes among hilariously macho, vaguely distinguishable tough guys are orchestrated with great verve by Uchitel and stunt coordinator Oleg Korytin. Periodic dream sequences of Kutavichute’s naked Aglaya bouncing in orgasmic bliss — from Ger’s p.o.v., of course — are representative of Uchitel’s preference for style over substance. Accordingly, thesping here seems nothing special.

Toronto Film Review: 'Break Loose'

Reviewed at Toronto International Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), September 8, 2013. Running time: 82 MIN. Original title: "Vosmerka"

Production:

(Russia) A Rock Films production, with support of Russian Cinema Fund. (International sales: Wide Management, Paris.) Produced by Alexey Uchitel. Executive producers, Elena Bystrova, Vladislav Mayevsky. Co-producers, Kira Saksaganskaya, Catherine Mtsitouridze.

Crew:

Directed by Alexey Uchitel. Screenplay, Alexander Mindadze, based on the novel “The Eight” by Zahkhar Prilepin. Camera (color), Yury Klimenko, Alexander Demyanenko; editors, Yelena Andreyeva, Gleb Nikulsky, Ekaterina Shahunova; production designer, Andrey Vasin; costume designers, Galina Deyeva, Irina Grajdankina; set decorator, Sergey Anisimov; stunt coordinator, Oleg Korytin; sound (Dolby Digital), Vladimir Ozemkov; supervising sound editors, Valentina Mordashova, Ludmila Danilova, Anastasia Pasenchuk; re-recording mixers, Dmitry Grigoryev, Konstantin Zalessky; assistant director, Philipp Yuryev; casting, Kristina Uchuvatkina, Svetlana Trusova, Natalya Titova.

With:

Alexey Mantsigyn, Artur Smolyaninov, Alexander Novyn, Artem Bystrov, Pavel Vorontsov, Vilma Kutavichute. (Russian dialogue)

More Film

  • First-Look Image Revealed for ‘Monday,’ Starring

    First-Look Image Revealed for ‘Monday,’ Starring ‘Captain America’s’ Sebastian Stan

    The first-look image from Greek director Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ “Monday,” starring Sebastian Stan – best known for “I, Tonya” and the “Captain America” movies – and “Colette’s” Denise Gough, has been released. Protagonist Pictures will launch international sales on the pic in Berlin. “Monday” follows the story of Mickey (Stan) and Chloe (Gough), two Americans in [...]

  • The Wedding

    Film Review: 'The Wedding'

    Two considerations need to exist side by side when discussing “The Wedding,” the debut feature of Egyptian-American multihyphenate Sam Abbas. One involves the film itself, a dull slice of Lower Manhattan mumblecore about a heterosexual New York couple fitfully planning their wedding until she discovers his gay dalliance. The other, getting the lion’s share of [...]

  • The Best Gifts For Film Buffs

    Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Gifts For Film Buffs

    Whether you know a film buff who needs to upgrade their collection, or you just want to upgrade your movie nights at home, here are eight gifts that will cast your favorite flicks in a whole new light. 1. Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema: The Criterion Collection More Reviews Film Review: 'The Wedding' Film Review: 'Malila: The [...]

  • Ansel Elgort The Great High School

    Film News Roundup: Ansel Elgort to Star in 'The Great High School Imposter'

    In today’s film news roundup, Ansel Elgort is going to high school, “Rockaway” gets a release, and “Suspiria” producer Bradley Fischer is honored. CASTING More Reviews Film Review: 'The Wedding' Film Review: 'Malila: The Farewell Flower' Ansel Elgort has come aboard to star in the drama “The Great High School Imposter” for Participant Media and [...]

  • Oscars Oscar Academy Awards Placeholder

    Oscars: Film Academy Narrows the List of Contenders in Nine Categories

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced shortlists of semi-finalists in nine separate categories. From here, the organization’s separate respective branches will vote to determine nominees, which will be announced along with all other Oscar categories next month. This year marks the first year since 1979 that shortlists have been revealed in [...]

  • Watch Skylar Grey Reenact 'Aquaman' Kiss

    Watch Skylar Grey Reenact 'Aquaman' Kiss Scene With Fiance

    The melody from “Everything I Need,” the song Skylar Grey penned for “Aquaman” is used in the scene — spoiler alert — in which the titular hero (Jason Momoa) and Mera (Amber Heard) kiss while an epic battle rages on around them. Grey and her fiance Elliott Taylor reenacted the kiss in a somewhat similar [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content