"Citizen X" is more than the story of Andrei Chikatilo, a marvelously acted, written, and directed tale that succeeds because it goes beyond the story of a killer to tell a truth about communism and the former Soviet Union. The story begins when a local cop brings in a body to the office of the new forensic pathologist in Rostov, Viktor Burakov (Stephen Rea). When the doctor tells the cop to head back out and look for evidence, more bodies start pouring into the office. Obviously, the authorities have a problem on their hands. But in Soviet Russia, the police can't do anything without attending seeking permission from committees made up of local military officers, KGB, and party apparatchiks. Burakov goes in front of this body to report his findings and request funds to buy the necessary equipment to launch an investigation. He mistakenly mentions "serial killer" in the process, which outrages Bondarchuk (Joss Ackland), the local representative of the communist party. He denies a serial killer could ever arise in the people's paradise, labeling it a "decadent western phenomenon." Other members of the panel attribute the crimes to gypsies or other "social undesirables." Only one man, Colonel Mikhail Fetisov (Donald Sutherland), is willing to listen to Burakov's claims-and even then only outside the conference room. Fetisov knows how the bureaucracy works whereas Burakov doesn't. The efforts to catch the killer while dealing with red tape forms the critical link that eventually unites the two men.
Meanwhile, the killings continue. We learn that one Andrei Chikatilo (Jeffrey DeMunn), a disgruntled factory worker with serious inadequacy issues, takes his frustrations out on the wayward children who spend their days riding the trains. By preying on kids ignored by society, Chikatilo can and has escaped detection for years. He escapes his fate for a few more years despite efforts by Burakov to detain him. It turns out Chikatilo is a member of the communist party and thus immune from the normal procedures involved in a criminal case. Bondarchuk orders Burakov to release Chikatilo, thus allowing the killer to commit crimes for several more years. When the Soviet Union finally collapses in the early 1990s, Fetisov finally gains the power needed to launch a massive investigation. The investigators once again detain Chikatilo, but this time they bring in a psychologist by the name of Bukhanovsky (Max von Sydow) to conduct the interrogation. The film's conclusion shows us exactly what happened to Andrei Chikatilo after Fetisov, Burakov, and Bukhanovsky cracked the case. You'll get a measure of satisfaction watching the end of this film.
"Citizen X" is a made for HBO film that should have played in the theaters. Everything works in the movie. The acting is superb, with special mention going to Rea, Sutherland, Ackland, and von Sydow. The Burakov character as played by Stephen Rea captures perfectly the years of personal pathos an investigator undergoes during a murder investigation, as well as the futility of knocking one's head against the rigid communist party system. Sutherland, too, gives the movie a measure of dignity. His character at first comes off as hardhearted, but as the plot progresses we discover he too wants more than anything to catch this killer. Sutherland and Rea possess great chemistry that shows every time the two are on screen together. Ackland as the dogmatic communist with a secret of his own is a great addition to the cast. Von Sydow steals every scene he's in; my favorite part of the film happens when Bukhanovsky and Chikatilo are talking during the interrogation and the killer finally breaks down. The look von Sydow's character casts towards the two-way glass is brilliant in the way it conveys a whole host of emotions in the space of a single second. DeMunn too is fantastic. Actually, all the performances achieve a level of greatness rarely seen in a non-theatrical production.
Beware as you watch "Citizen X." The scenes of violence involving Chikatilo and some of his victims are extremely tough to watch. They even made this horror film fan cringe. As for the DVD, you don't get much other than some cast and crew biographies. Still, you won't miss extras that much with this movie. "Citizen X" may well be one of the best movies made about how the authorities track down a serial killer. For a fine viewing experience, give this one a watch soon.
Based on the true story of the eight year long manhunt in communist Soviet Union (1982 - 1990) for one of the most savage and elusive serial killers on record - Andrei Chikatilo (a chilling Jeffrey DeMunn).
The story starts out with newbie forensic pathologist, Viktor Burakov (a great Stephen Rea), and his first cadaver that comes into the morgue. A quick nightime search of the wooded area where the body was found is completed with eight MORE bodies found in varying degrees of decomposition and desication. All are children, boys and girls alike and have been murdered, raped and mutilated in some very odd ways.
Viktor, somehow, is put in charge of the WHOLE blessed case by Colonel Mikhail Fetisov (Donald Sutherland). With Viktor now being forensic expert, detective, and case cracker extraordinaire, he is more than a little wary of his own capabilites and feels like the only man who cares about these horrific murders that are taking place.
The investigation continues on for many years with many murders being committed over time because the case is being buried under the communist parties' government red tape and "poo pooing" by the Colonel's superior and sinister leader, Bondarchuk (Joss Ackland).
Thankfully and finally the cold war hits and Viktor is given permission to bring in a psychiatrist, Dr. Alexandr Bukhanovsky (Max von Sydow) to create a psychological profile of the serial rapist and murder. Not only is this the first case of serial murder in the USSR but the first to employ psychological profiles, US FBI tactics, and dissemination of the crimes to the general populus.
With fifty-two victims to his name, the killer they deem "Citizen X" finally takes shape right before their eyes... Watch this doozy of a true crime story and see if they "KATCH THEIR KILLER"!
All of the performances are top-notch with only a bit of the Russian accents faltering a bit, even in Sutherland's double award-winning portrayal. Rea, DeMunn, and von Sydow also deserved awards for their truly engrossing performances.
If you like true crime or the Hannibal stories, you are sure to enjoy this film!
Happy Watching and Don't Talk To "Strangers On The Train"...
Lets be absolutely clear about this.....this is an ADULTS ONLY movie....it has much disturbing content. Put the kids to bed.....and be prepared for a chilling yet unforgettable movie.
The movie is about how the ex U.S.S.R. Read more