Newsmakers (2009)

Rating: C+

Dir: Anders Banke
Star: Andrey Merzlikin, Evgeniy Tsyganov, Mariya Mashkova, Sergey Garmash
a.k.a. Goryachie novosti

A brutal gun-battle between cops and robbers turns into a media disaster for the police. To turn things around, the force’s PR director, Katya (Mashkova), suggests making a live reality show, depicting the hunt and capture of the perpetrators. While they are relatively quickly tracked down to a massive apartment block, things don’t go as smoothly as planned, on a number of fronts. The old-school cops, under Smirnov (Merzlikin) who were initially the combatants, have no interest in Katya’s scheme, or complying with it. And, needless to say, neither do the criminals, who are able to get their own, less sanitized version of events out, from inside the building, thanks to the wonders of the Internet and mobile phones.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is a remake of Johnnie To’s Breaking News, transported to Russia, and directed by a Swede whose previous film, Frostbitten [which sounds like 30 Days of Night, but I’m not going to accuse anyone at this point), had become a surprise hit in that country. This: not so much, and if you’ve seen the original, this is largely superfluous. It may be somewhat noisier, but there doesn’t appear to be as much in the way of social commentary – society has, to a large extent, caught up with and passed the film – and nothing like the amazing tracking shot which opened its inspiration. even if the equivalent battle is pretty well staged). However, I did find the lead characters interesting, and things move on at a decent-enough pace. Overall though, what you take away from this, is mostly that Hollywood is not the sole location of pointless rehashes of foreign movies for the local audience.