Movie Review: Russian Thriller 'Break' Pulls Out All The Stops

Break Otryv Irina Antonenko Katya Denis Kosyakov Denis Ingrid Olerinskaya Vika
Image by Attraction Film Company
As of writing this review for the Russian language thriller “Break” (“Otryv”), the movie has a 4.3 user rating on IMDb. Do not let its low score keep you from watching it. “Break” is an utterly entertaining worst-case scenario heart-pumper that keeps the thrills and chills coming in steady supply.

Do the characters make bad decisions? Yes, but that is undoubtedly a flaw found in almost every movie in the genre. Even Wes Craven’s crafty thriller, “Red Eye,” had a few off-putting moments in that vein. In the end, it is about how a suspense story sets that sense in motion that matters, and Russia’s “Break” does a better job at it than most.

“Break” begins with five twenty-somethings celebrating New Year’s Eve in Russia. Comprising the group are two couples and a caustic and grating fifth wheel. One of the pairings is heading towards a break-up. Katya (Irina Antonenko) is preparing to end things with her long-time boyfriend, Kirill (Andrey Nazimov).

That process gets sped up when the two disagree about taking a gondola to a mountain top. As a result, Kirill and Katya end up going their separate ways. Kirill heads back to the hotel, while Katya stays with the others. As you probably suspected, it turns out to be a fateful decision.

The group heads off on their mountain-top adventure without Kirill, and they enter a gondola to make it happen. Disaster eventually strikes, and the gondola becomes stuck midair, making for quite a frightening, sensational vision.

For suspense enthusiasts, the parallels between “Break” and 2010’s “Frozen” (the thriller not the animated film) are hard to miss. That said, the movies differ significantly. “Break” is not anywhere close to a remake. It tells a fresh story that takes various detours that differentiates itself from 2010’s stellar survival film.

“Break” has an ambitious story with a slick pace and unexpected developments. It also boasts several chill-inducing sequences directed by Tigran Sahakyan as its characters struggle to survive the impossible. Unlike “Frozen,” “Break” does take more fantastical swings than the former. Where “Frozen” stuck close to reality, “Break” takes on some outlandish “could someone really survive that?” moments.

One of the things missing from “Break” is a so-called comic relief. It is a serious movie that aims to keep things pointed in that direction. Much like Russia’s “The Crew,” “Break” cements itself as a gutsy nail-biter that keeps its focus hued towards the sensational circumstances at hand. In that regard, it also maintains a real sense of suspense regarding the main characters’ fate.

In a post-“Game of Thrones” world, there is more tension than ever before when it comes to protagonists. Look no further than the 2019 thriller “Crawl” for a prime example of it getting leveraged. “Break” keeps the “no one is safe” atmosphere churning for itself and in startling ways.

There is also some nicely done character development that takes place. By the time “Break” ended, personal feelings towards the three main characters had shifted substantially from where they began. It is this aspect that lends the movie a deeper edge than it would have otherwise had.

“Break” (“Otryv”) was more than worth the money spent on the Amazon Prime Video rental. It is not streaming for Prime members quite yet. Stay tuned, though, there is an excellent selection of Russian language movies and series to watch on the platform.

Rating: 7/10