Interview by Paul Salfen
When an injured woman stumbles out of a Russian forest in 1991, she bears the calling cards of a serial killer case closed several years ago. Worried how it will affect his career and recent promotion, Issa Valentinovich takes personal responsibility for solving this new act of violence. THE EXECUTION also follows the original case in 1988 as Issa works to find the culprit for a series of grisly murders haunting the USSR. The killer stuffs his victims’ mouths full of mud before assaulting and stabbing them to death. Concerned about the reactions of citizens in a quickly disintegrating Soviet Union, Issa receives pressure from his higher-ups to solve the case by any means necessary.
Alternating timelines and a shifting point of view will keep you guessing the motive of every character on screen. The developments in both timelines interact with each other to complicate events that initially seem clear cut. A maelstrom of political machination, toxic masculinity, and death haunts Issa as he tries to put the pieces of the case together. The film’s blend of revenge drama and neo-noir keeps the plot tangled until the blood-soaked finale.
Using the detective genre to show the end of the USSR and how its citizens were affected by Gorbachev’s decision to weaken Soviet hold on other European countries, the film depicts a nation and a populace in search of an identity when faced with the dissolution of their imperial aspirations. Amidst this political turmoil, the characters of THE EXECUTION try to grasp an increasingly uncontrollable situation with visceral scenes of violence and shocking acts of institutional harm. (AUSTIN KING)