Archangel (2005)

“You won’t understand Russia unless you understand its past.”

In Archangel, Professor Fluke Kelso (Daniel Craig) is in Moscow to deliver a lecture when an elderly man named Papu approaches him (Valery Chemyak) with some rather cryptic comments. Kelso is intrigued, but his interest surges when Papu explains he was a soldier in the Kremlin in his youth. Papu claims he was present at the time of Stalin’s death, and that he was ordered by Beria to bury a secret journal belonging to Stalin. Kelso, a Russian historian, can’t resist the opportunity to get his hands on an invaluable piece of buried history, and so he takes the bait and is soon up-to-his-neck in intrigue and danger.

This made-for-British television film is a fairly standard thriller based on the novel by Thomas Harris. This is not the typical sort of thing that leaps to mind when imagining the quality of imported British televisions programmes, so in other words, Archangel doesn’t have the usual ‘stamp’ of quality that British television often carries. The film stresses that there are old communists lurking in Putin’s New Russia who look back longingly to the old days and still make “gods out of monsters” like Stalin. And so in Kelso’s quest to discover the truth about the journal, he uncovers a host of loyal Stalin admirers–people who often misinterpret Kelso’s knowledge about Stalin as a form of worship.

The plot contains some holes, and as with many thrillers, the plot surges ahead while the audience is left asking questions. But Daniel Craig shows once again how very flexible he can be in various roles, so if you’re a Craig fan, you’ll want to catch this. From director Jon Jones.

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