Based on the true story of the hunt for the most savage and elusive serial killer on record. It started with eight bodies found murdered, raped and mutilated. A brilliant Soviet forensics expert (Stephen Rae) is put in cha... more »rge of the case by his colonel (Donald Sutherland). But the investigation is buried under government red tape until a psychiatrist (Max von Sydow) is called in to create a psychological profile of the murder. With fifty-two victims to his name, the killer they call Citizen X finally takes shape before their eyes. But can they trap him before he kills again?« less
"A Man Is What He Fights For" - Soviet Search For Citizen X
Sheila Chilcote-Collins | Collinswood, Van Wert, OH USA | 07/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From Robert Cullen's true crime novel, "The Killer Department" comes HBO Studio's "Citizen X". Originally cablecast on HBO February 25, 1995, Donald Sutherland won the Golden Globe for Supporting Role Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture Made for TV in 1996 and also the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Special in 1995.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"..."
M. J. Walters | Chicago, IL USA | 10/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Citizen X" boasts a brilliant cast which includes Stephen Rea, Donald Sutherland, Max Von Sydow and Jeffrey DeMunn. It also offers viewers a compelling storyline about one of the most prolific serial killers in history and the man who finally brought him to justice. We follow an honest, driven cop (Rea) as he negotiates his way through the labyrinth of denial and bureaucratic stonewalling in the former Soviet Union.
Sutherland as an army Colonel who is at first just in it as a part of a grand political scheme, is affecting as a man who comes to understand the importance of Rea's work on a wholly human level. Von Sydow is wonderful (as always) as a psychiatrist who is willing to go against prevailing attitudes in his own field for the chance not only to help catch the killer, but to study him. And DeMunn is nothing short of amazing as the killer who provokes revulsion, anger and pity by turns.
This is a film which cannot leave you untouched. But be warned, it's a hard film to watch. It doesn't shrink from the details of the crimes or the harsh realities of life at the end of the Soviet Union."
The best "made-for-TV" movie I have seen
N. Solunac | CA USA | 06/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Steven Rea is outstanding in his portrayal of a police forensic specialist who must piece together the clues as well as fight a system unwilling to admit it's own shortcomings. His ability to convey the complex emotions of his character through facial expression rather than dialogue is reason enough to watch the movie. A cameo by Max von Sydow as a psychologist willing to brave the criticism of his contemporaries in an attempt to develop an M.O. for the killer is most notable for it's keen insight into the mind of a serial madman. Donald Sutherland is actually quite entertaining as a communist aparatchik colonel who goes full circle with the changing climate. Jeffrey DeMunn, who has many supporting roles to his credit, is remarkable as the unassuming and pitiful murderer who manages to inspire revulsion as well as sympathy. Not action packed by today's standards; however, an excellent psychological thriller with deep and thought provoking glimpses behind an "Iron Curtain" few of us ever really understood. Had it been released in theaters rather than on HBO, it surely would have received praise akin to other notables such as "Silence of the Lambs." The story strictly focuses on character development. In allowing viewers the unique luxury of using their imaginations, it does not offend by relying on eye-candy and shock effects. It simply tells an interesting story. I couldn't wait for this one to come out on DVD!"
As Good A Thriller As Any In Theaters Near You
A. Fultz | Santa Barbara, CA, USA | 05/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the best film never released to the general public. Produced for HBO, this movie tracks the true story of the hunt for the most prolific serial killer in Soviet/Russian history. The story focuses on the "detective", Burakov, (played by Stephen Rea) who dedicates himself to finding the killer that is stalking young children in the Soviet Union. Rea does an excellent job of bringing to life the character, who faces road blocks everywhere he turns from the Soviet government who refuse to admit they have a serial killer in their nation. Donald Sutherland plays the sympathetic superior to Rea's detective. As Rea fights an uphill battle to cut through bueracratic red-tape, Sutherland queitly works behind the scenes to smooth the waters for his less polically astute subordinate. Toghether, the two make headway in their increasingly tense search for the killer. The true depth of the friendship and respect they have developed is revealed late in the film, in a scene immediately after the Soviet government is replaced and Sutherland reveals the new resources available to them. One of the most poignant scenes in recent films, this moment defines the toll that this type of investigation takes on the investigator who undertakes to seek justice against all odds. Without saying a word, Rea manages to convey the deep emotions his character is feeling as his superior finally reveals the true admiration he has for the work his subordinate has done. Rea and Sutherland play their roles masterfully throughout this drama.The supporting cast is also excellent. Jeffrey DeMunn, Max Von Sydow, Mike Navrides and John Wood lead a group of actors who most will know by face but not by name and who provide excellent support throughout. DeMunn in particular is impressive as Chikatilo.It is a shame this film is seen in some circles as a "made for t.v. movie". If this movie had been released in the theaters, it would have earned similar praise to such thrillers as Silence of the Lambs or Seven. The story is first rate and keeps the viewer enthralled until the very end. Well acted, written and directed, Citizen X is a first rate thriller. If you missed it on HBO, don't miss it now."
A brilliant portrayal of the USSR
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 03/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This HBO movie about the world's most profligate serial killer was made in 1995 and released on DVD five years later. It portrays a near decade-long pursuit of a real life serial killer in the Soviet Union and the action crosses over the period from 1982-90, from the transition of Soviet Union under Communist control to glasnost Russia under Gorbachev.
The film portrays the case of a state forensics expert turned investigator (Stephen Rea from "The Crying Game"), his relationship with the Soviet bureaucracy, his boss (Donald Sutherland) and a psychiatrist whose insights were critical to solving the case (Max von Sydow). These actors are all marvelous and veteran character actor Jeffrey DeMunn does a more than creditable job as the serial killer.
While the story itself is completely fascinating and involving, what I found more enticing was the recreation of Soviet Russia during the period. Filmed in Budapest, Hungary, the movie portrays world military power USSR for what it really is -- a Third World nation whose residents largely reside in poverty and, often, squalor.
One of the great truths of this film is that the killer met his quarry at railroad stations. One of the lesser known secrets inside the old Soviet Union was its outstanding public transit systems, of which the rail program was one. The one thing I found somewhat unrealistic was not a single scene in the dreadful Russian winter, which sometimes lasts 9 months in that part of the world.
This is great filmmaking and wonderful storytelling linked with believable acting in every scene. The subplot of Communist bureaurcracy interfering with the police investigation is probably the message most people will remember from this film. I'd advise you to take away the idea that Russia, while one of the great world military powers in the 1980s, was just as gray and miserable a place to live as portrayed in every scene of this brilliant film."