This is the seventeenth entry in a series in which I'll countdown my 20 favorite scenes from the last 10 years in movies. To catch up more with the idea of this project, to see the other entries on the countdown, and to find out how you can contribute, click here.
I can't say I'm a huge fan of David Cronenberg's films, but I also haven't seen many of them. A History of Violence, I think, is masterful. Naked Lunch, A Dangerous Method—not so much. Eastern Promises, however, is difficult to rate. On the one hand, the reaction I had to it the first time I saw it was rabidly positive. Repeat viewings, unfortunately, haven't been as kind.
One scene, though, has stood up to repeat viewings. It's a scene so audacious that even when I know it's coming, I can't help but laugh to myself that Cronenberg put it in his otherwise straightforward crime thriller. Yes, it's the scene in which Aragorn himself, Viggo Mortensen, fights off two bad guys in nothing but his birthday suit. And I think it goes without saying that this is one scene on the countdown that I'll write-up without a clip...
It's hard for me to even describe my first reaction to this scene. I will say the film was one of the first dates I had with my current girlfriend, and I'm a little surprised (but thankful) she agreed to see me again after her reaction to the film. Most of the people in our theater spent these few minutes groaning and covering their eyes. For the lucky few who made it all the way through, most of us, I think, couldn't help but laugh. I know I had a hard time containing myself, as odd as it sounds. And every time I see it, I can't help but laugh again, remembering my reaction to it the first time.
I also think it's just a really well-choreographed fight scene, and Viggo's acting in this scene in particular is outstanding. I'm sure those of you who have seen it could agree with me. Overall, though, I'd just say that this is an example of Cronenberg being Cronenberg—pushing the envelope and letting viewers decide whether or not they want to come along for the ride. Despite some reservations with the film overall, it's definitely a ride I'm glad I took, if for no other reason that this scene alone.