Balabanov's third feature is a snappily edited, contemporary gangster thriller, shot in semi-documentary style, which is a far cry from the elusive b/w art house teasers he's getting a reputation for. As an incidental portrait of Russia (or at least St Petersburg), it paints a sorry if fascinating picture. Though the social focus is relatively narrow - following a recently demobbed soldier caught up in his mobster brother's internecine world of seedy corruption, soulless materialism and frequent violence and death - the carefully depicted environment of cold markets, dossers' hang outs and cheerless workers' flats build a convincing account of a country's disaffection, lack of direction and yearning stoicism. Not that the film is depressing. Bodrov brings a broody matter-of-factness to his role as the reluctant killer Danila, obsessed with a Soviet-era underground rock group. He's in many ways an innocent and a romantic: his rationale, his racism, received not self-developed. Balabanov shows again his rare talent for deriving entirely credible performances, shooting with a no-fuss efficiency and assurance, while retaining an authorial distance that leaves the moral lessons open.