Directed by: Michael Apted
Screenplay by: Dennis Potter, based on the novel by Martin Cruz Smith.
Tagline: “Doing Business in Moscow can be Murder.”
Chief Inspector Renko, the best detective in the Moscow Militia, is handed a grisly triple homicide to solve, which greatly tests all his wits and abilities. Centering around Inspector Renko's investigation, Renko soon discovers that many people don't want the murders solved, for, if they are, they may expose a complex conspiracy plot involving a select group of corrupt Moscow city official that will stop at nothing to keep their secret out of the public eye.
Gorky Park is described as "a highly acclaimed murder / mystery of international intrigue and danger," that is "a spectacular, suspenseful exploration of intrigue, double-dealing and murder in the cold, barren world of Moscow's Gorky Park." This story takes place long before the Berlin Wall came down, when the old, repressive system of government of the old Soviet Union was still in power, when "people fell through a chasm, between what is said and what is done."
Chief Inspector Renko in the past often had to solve cases, taking the risk of exposing the evil dealings of the KGB, and getting in trouble himself. When handed the case of the mutilated bodies found in Gorky Park, Renko gathers enough evidence to suggest that these murders were the handiwork of the KGB. However, after being urged by his superior, the head Moscow Prosecutor Iamskoy (Bannen), to take the case, and after being reassured protection, Renko bravely goes forth, step by step, in the spirit of Mr. Perot & Miss Marple, to investigate suspects, possible witnesses, gather evidence, and establish motives, all under the hostile, hindering, uncooperative eye of the KGB, led by the nasty, corrupt Major Pribluda (Rikki Fulton). When threatened on occasion, throughout the film, he isn't afraid to boldly confront his enemies with the truth.
His careful investigation leads him to young, wary of authority dissident, Irena (Pacula) who Renko knows is the material witness, that can bring the murderer to justice, and stop Osborne; the rich, American businessman who is mixed up in the case. Even though Renko & Irena fall passionately in love, Renko is a disciplined, professional policeman who knows what he must do to get this uncooperative, desperate witness to spill the beans. Then, his troubles just increase, as he has to deal with a surprise betrayal, caused by unsuspected corruption, somehow find a way to complete his case, protect the love of his life, Irena, bring the guilty to justice, follow orders and stay alive himself to live another day.
This murder/mystery script, (by Dennis Potter), is well-written, and brought to life by the direction and pacing, (by Michael Apted), and the acting by a terrific cast.
Joanna Pacula, who grew up in communist Poland, can identify very well with her character, Irina Asanova, as a person who desperately wants to be free, and out of Russia.
William Hurt is terrific, and works well with the rest of the talented cast, as the disciplined, gutsy, professional investigator, Arkady Renko, who is vigorously challenged in more than one way in his quest for the truth, justice and love for Irena.
Lee Marvin - does an excellent job as the villainous, cold, soul-less American Businessman, Jack Osborne, who ruthlessly will do anything to succeed in his bold plan, to be even more wealthy, without suffering any personal consequences.
Brian Dennehy - does a great job as detective William Kirwill from New York, who helps Renko solve a major puzzle piece of the case, and makes a great, life-saving, part-time side-kick, whose mind is set on justice and revenge for his brother's death in Gorky Park.
The music really adds to the suspenseful, stark feeling of the movie, the fast-paced action scenes, the uplifting ending, as well as to the tender, passionate love scene between Renko and Irene, in Renko's bedroom.
The photography and lighting used during the Moscow scenes is stark, dreary, and really sets the mood of this repressive society. In Sweden, the photography & lighting are brighter and cheerier, except for the dark bar scene, when KGB and Renko sit down for a chat and a drink, to discuss the upcoming plan.
Favorite Scenes Include: The scenes that show Renko gathering clues, and how he builds his case after each piece of evidence is gathered. Step by step, he slowly develops his theory, as he puts two and two together. The Renko - Irene scenes are well- acted, and most enjoyable; especially the final interrogation scene. The interrogation scene of the scummy, KGB informant, Theodore Golodkin (Alexei Sayle), is entertaining. The action scenes are well directed, and well-paced, as well as a bit violent (R rating). The Dennehy-Renko scenes give a lot of insight to the characters and the plot, and the ending scene gives a positive twist to the story.
The R rating was given because of the passionate love scene, (that shows a lot for 1983 standards), the graphic, opening scene when the bodies are first uncovered, and the short, violent action sequences, all of which make this film not appropriate for children. This reviewer highly recommends this outstanding, suspenseful murder mystery to adult audiences, who love a great, suspenseful who- done-it, with intrigue, double-dealing, bravery and love mixed into the core of the story.
Directed by: Michael Apted. Screenplay by: Dennis Potter, based on novel by Martin Cruz Smith. Director of Photography: Ralf D. Bode. Music by: James Horner.
If you enjoyed GORKY PARK, you may like MURDER AT 1600, DEATH ON THE NILE, EVIL UNDER THE SUN, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, THE DAY OF THE JACKAL, THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, HOMICIDE, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, THE RUSSIA HOUSE, SNEAKERS, and/or L.A. CONFIDENTIAL.