As always, potential Spoiler Alert
While watching Archangel, all I could think is that this was going to be a very short article. It’s one of those bland, forgettable movies, neither bad nor good, neither boring nor interesting. It’s just kinda … there. It doesn’t give one a helluva lot to write about.
In the movie, Daniel Craig plays Professor Fluke Kelso, an expert on Joseph Stalin. While at a conference in Moscow, he learns of the existence, and possible location, of a previously unknown diary written by Stalin himself. And, like any good academic, he embarks on a series of dangerous, often illegal adventures to find it. (On a side note, I wish my academic friends would invite me along on their exploits. But they insist it’s all libraries and Google and office buildings.)
Everybody makes it pretty easy for Kelso, though. I found myself thinking “For This, Then That,” a lot as the story progressed. In the flashback scene, when Stalin’s diary is buried, it was, “For something they want never to be found, that sure is a shallow hole.” (Also, why the fuck do people always bury shit they want never to be found? It’s a book. A match’ll do wonders.) When the Russians set someone to spy on Kelso, all I could think was, “For a professional tail, buddy is crazy obvious.” Kelso’s biggest problem, in fact, seems to be himself as, for an expert on the country, he doesn’t seem to grasp the need for a coat during a Russian winter.
The diary turns out not to be Stalin’s, but that of a young girl who, it seems, may have born his child. There’s some potential for interesting discussion here, in an, “If you could travel back in time and kill Hitler as a baby, would you?” kind of way. But it never really manifests much beyond characters shouting, “Stalin bad, son badder!” on one side, and “But think of the ratings!” on the other.
Although watching Archangel after Donald Trump was elected did make one scene stand out in a way that it didn’t before.
While it’s never 100% confirmed that the man Kelso finds is actually Stalin’s son, everyone, including Kelso, believes he is. He’s been being kept secret, but now a politician running for office on a platform of a return to Stalinism is about to present him to the Russian populace. Kelso, trying to explain why this is horrifying to the dumbass reporter who wants to break the story wide open, says, “What do you think the disposessed and disaffected are going to do when he wheels out the new messiah? He’s Stalin’s son. That man’s father is responsible for more deaths than Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, and Genghis Khan combined, and that is a conservative estimate. 30 million Russians think that man’s dad did a good job.”
That came a bit too close to the real world for comfort. Made me shudder, it did.
To see other posts in my venture to watch my movie collection in alphabetical(ish) order, click here.