Cronenberg's superb A History of Violence left me with high expectations for his next movie, and that is, in a way, unfair to Eastern Promises. EP is a great movie, but it is not even in the same category with A History of Violence. The building blocks of EP's plot are quite interesting, but the execution, the details (especially the ancillary dialogs) are lame; distracting at best (like the cheesy-ass attempts at comedy from Naomi's racist uncle).
In Eastern Promises, Naomi Watts is a nurse who helps out a teenage mother. The teenage girls dies during labor and Naomi feels like she needs to find out the whereabouts of the girl's family so that the baby can be sent them. In her quest for information, she becomes entangled with the Russian mafia. We have Armin Mueller-Stahl as the big boss, Vincent Cassel as his son, and Viggo Mortensen as the family's, uh, driver. That's all you need to know.
In Eastern Promises you get the gory violence Cronenberg is famous for right in the first few minutes. There are other gory scenes, one of which is quite original. Viggo fights two guys -- totally naked. The two guys are not naked but Viggo is, which, I think, adds a very interesting layer of risk to the fight. We see Viggo's parts swinging left and right, dodging the blades and small knifes. Superb.
Eastern Promises packs quite a bit of gay content, but my discussion of the homo scenes will ruin the part of the plot.