Maybe the world didn’t know it needed a Russian Guy Ritchie film. But here it is.
“Why Don’t You Just Die!” is a grimly gruesome and laugh-out-loud tale of lies, double-crosses, brawls, gunplay and torture. And if Madonna’s ex-husband didn’t learn Russian to make it, writer-director Kirill Sokolov gives him quite the tip of the cap in this dark movie of murder and mayhem in Mother Russia.
It’s got many a Ritchie “Snatched” touch — “explainer” flashbacks, character-named “chapters,” and the old ultra-violence, here taken completely over the top with almost-goofy geysers of blood at this bloody nose, that gunshot/knife/power-drill wound.
It opens with Matvei (Aleksandr Kuznetsov), antsy, standing at an apartment door. He’s summoning up his courage. “One two three, evil won’t touch me (in Russian, with English subtitles).” As he rings the bell, he hides a claw-hammer behind his back.
Matvei is on a mission.
The man who answers the door is suspicious but unafraid. So you’re “Olya’s boyfriend?” Sure. Come in. Wait.
But as he sits down to eat, the bald-headed bulldog Andrei (Vitaliy Khaev) turns their chat into an interrogation. How long’ve you known Olya? What’s with the hammer? Describe the “friend” you’re taking that hammer to.
Andrei is a police detective. The kid may have 30 years on him, but not when the cop picks up the shotgun.
The movie’s first epic brawl leads to first this man, then the other, getting the upper hand.
We have just enough time to wonder about motives when this is “explained” in a Matvei flashback.
We have plenty of time to second guess those motives before lovely Olya (Evgeniya Kregzhde) shows up.
And we can reason through how this character can get out of handcuffs or that one can wonder about which among his enemies set this up before flashback “explainers” let us see that “It’s not that simple,” getting out of handcuffs, the detective’s partner (Michael Gor) gets involved and the whole affair turns bloodier and more complicated still.
The dialogue has a droll Russian fatalism — “And I’ve lived to see my own death.”
The players capture desperation, fear and resignation, if not the actual real impacts of bone-crushing blows, compromising injuries and massive blood loss.
The title warns you to never take any coup de grace as “final.”
And the simple five-handed cast (Elena Shevchenko plays Olya’s mom) allows us to keep the many double-crosses and betrayals and ulterior motives straight.
Sokolov, in his feature-directing debut, has made a film that’s plays like a Guy Ritchie film’s leaner, tighter first draft — before the twists within twists, before the layers of upon layers of funny lines have been carved out.
But the effect is the same as “Snatched, “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” or “The Gentlemen” — violent people meting out over-the-top violence without pity, but never leaving out the pithy.
MPAA Rating: unrated, gory, graphic violence
Cast: Aleksandr Kuznetsov, Vitaliy Khaev, Evgeniya Kregzhde, Michael Gor, Elena Shevchenko
Credits: Written and directed by Kirill Sokolov. An Arrow release.
Running time: 1:34