Published Sep 24, 2008The deliberate pacing of Russian narratives can sometimes be difficult for North American audiences to adjust to but for people who can adapt to the slightly more plodding style of storytelling, The Ghost is worth seeking out.
This somewhat conventional thriller follows the story of Anton (Konstantin Khabensky), a crime novelist who witnesses the daylight assassination of a mob informant. After getting over the shock of viewing a scenario hes fictionally written about so often, Anton wants to bring more reality to his prose.
The assassin (Vladimir Mashkov), who approached Anton for an autograph moments prior to the murder, seeks out the author and offers to tell his story and grant Anton insight into the world of murder for hire. Anton takes on the role of confessor, using the assassins real life exploits to help his writing as he works to understand the mind of a cold-blooded, methodical killer, going so far as to plot a pretend assassination so he can feel the thrill of the hunt.
The Ghost weaves an intricate story that, though a little predictable and lacking the action of a Hollywood thriller, is captivating and well thought out. Khabensky, who North American audiences might recognize from the action packed Russian fantasy film Night Watch (Nochoy Dozor) and its less enjoyable sequel Day Watch (Dnevno Dozor), gives a solid performance as a novelist struggling with his inner demons, testing the limits of his experience.
The steady pacing of the of the story edges the plot towards drama at times, focusing on Antons personal life to a greater degree than western standards would dictate. But Director Karen Oganesyan keeps the tension high with the underlying threat of violence that brutally and satisfyingly resolves itself in the films final act. (Magnum)