A gripping, dramatic thriller infused with a twist of dark humor, PU-239 reveals the lengths to which a man will go to secure his family's future. While working at a nuclear power plant in Russia, Timofey (Paddy Considine)... more » is exposed to a deadly dose of radiation while trying to aver a plant disaster. Instead of rewarding Timonfey for his efforts, the plants treats him as a scapegoat, offering no compensation to him or his family. Desperate to provide security for his wife and son, Timofey steals a small amount of Pu-239 - weapons-grade Plutonium- and head to Moscow to sell it on the black market. Caught up in the "new Russia" of hoods and hookers, Timofey struggles to make the sales; his efforts resulting in deadly consequences.« less
Darwin H. (movienut) from BLOOMINGTON, MN Reviewed on 10/22/2014...
Pu-239 (aka The Half of Timofey Berezin). Thought it was an excellent film by a first time director. Be warned though it is very violent in certain scenes. Thought the acting was excellent across the board. My only criticism is that the tone seemed a bit all over the map. It has a very human family drama at it's core with great characters that you really care about. Yet it also mixes in both black comedy and a very brutal Russian crime element as well. I ended up feeling genuinely concerned about the family, laughing at some of the bungling criminals antics, and apprehensive about how brutal the next inevitable violent scene was going to be all at the same time. Takes you for quite an emotional roller coaster ride. As one critic quite aptly put it "a moral quagmire of social commentary, happenstance tragedy, and weapons-grade plutonium run wild through post-Soviet Russia." If any of this sounds intriguing to you I think this little film is well worth a watch.
This has been a MovieNut "no spoilers" quick review.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
IVOR I. from CHICAGO, IL Reviewed on 9/8/2009...
PU-239, is sad tragedy set in the early days of post-Soviet era Russia. The doe-eyed Paddy Considine stars as Timofey Berezin, a loving husband and father who works in a decaying Russian nuclear facility. Contaminated with radioactive material after an accident, he is scapegoatd and fired, After compulsively stealing a quantity of weapons-grade plutonium (PU-239) to sell on the black market. A decent man acting impulsively, Berezin, realizing he will die soon of radiation poison, trying to provide a nest egg for his wife and young son’s future, takes a vial of PU-239 to Moscow.
Moscow is a corrupt world where petty criminals, powerful crime bosses and whores run the city. Everything is for sale, from sex and drugs to weapons of all sorts - including nuclear ones. Considine does an excellent job as poor, doomed Berezin staggering the cruel streets of Moscow as his radiation poisoning slowly takes its toll. Unfortunately, the role is a tad too reminiscent of the character of the luckless Irish immigrant father Considine played in Jim Sheridan’s 'In America.' Written and directed by Scott Z. Burns, best known as one of the producers of Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth,' and the screenwriter of 'The Bourne Ultimatum.'
A bit to heavy-handed for this viewer, the film gives a good lesson to those out there who haven't quite realized how easy it is out there in a corrupt universe for a terrorist or a ruthless criminal to obtain weapons-grade plutonium enough to create a 'dirty bomb.' It’s a bleak but fascinating and unforgettable 90 minutes of TV from HBO. It’s just a shame however that HBO is now one of the few homes for intelligent dramas on television, which are too smart and serious for the increasingly dumbed-down broadcast networks.
Radha Mitchell stars as his wife Marina. The Australian actress is a radiant and convincing on-screen presence as the supportive spouse. Russians never have an easy life, whether it's been under the czars, Soviets or the organized criminals who run things now. When Timofey finally dies, Marina characteristically suffers this life-changing tragedy with a sad sense of acceptance and a stoicism. A morbid but worthwhile film.
"Do you want to buy some Pu?"
Aaron Gutsell | Clementon, NJ | 05/01/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A film with such an unusual title is bound to be interesting, and "Pu-239" certainly delivers. Timofey (Paddy Considine) is a worker at a Russian nuclear plant who receives a lethal radioactive dose and sets about providing for his family in the few days he has left to live. He does this by purloining Plutonium, chemical symbol Pu-239, not quite as well known as its cousin U-238. Shot on location, "Pu-239" is an English-language foreign film, with some familiar faces such as Rhada Mitchell as Timofey's wife, and the usual cast of colorful but unknown Russian gangsters. Least expected is the fact that Plutonium is hilarious! Paddy hooks up with Shiv, a small-time crook, and his two out-of-control associates who resort to stealing windshield wipers and dog-napping as sources of income. Laced amidst the dark humor are startlingly insightful meditations on light's wave/particle duality, or the substance of a mushroom cloud consisting of fear. Facts sprinkled throughout the movie are all accurate, such as an interesting sidebar about the painters of radium-dial watches in West Orange, New Jersey who began to die from hideous oral cancer, as they tended to moisten their paint brushes with their mouths. The combination of story, dark humor, nuclear fact, and philosophy render "Pu-239" an intelligent and worthwhile film."
"Who wants some PU?"
Stephen Thoemmes | AZ, USA | 08/04/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Another winning movie set in Russia. A worker in a nuclear plant, of the usual unsafe Russian design, is caught in an accidental radioactive steam leak. He is isolated behind sealed doors and sees his comrades look at him and walk away. When the event is over he is showered and his dosimeter badge is taken. He is told that his exposure is survivable but the ultimate blame is laid on him rather than the faulty design and protocols. He is now home with his wife and child with no job, no income, and a suspicion that he is being lied to. He finds his original dosimeter badge and sees that he has received a lethal level of exposure. Again, a Russian is dealt a deadly hand. Soon his body begins to fall apart. His hands need to be bandaged. His appearance is frightening. True to form, he hatches a plan to steal some Plutonium 239 and sell it on the black market so that his family will be able to survive without him. Nothing left to lose.
The theft itself is a little hard to believe, but when we see this poor dying man going out into an open air market with a cardboard sign reading merely "Pu239" we step into the other world. Our logical western minds shy away and say that this cannot be happening. This man is accosted by a street thug who thinks he controls the local market. Best line of the whole movie is when the thug asks our hero "What is Pooh?" What follows is a classic story of desperation, ignorance, greed, and simple stupidity. As westerners we might find this movie as being highly improbable, but as a Russian I can vouch for the reality and anguish of this film. By viewing it, Americans can maybe appreciate how dangerous the world we live in is without the added artificial threat levels being screamed at us everyday by our 'leaders'. By viewing foreign films such as this we can begin to be citizens of the world and realize that "they" are just like "us"."
BJ | East Peoria, IL United States | 07/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"PU-239 is a relativately unknown movie. I came across the preview on some other movie a few months back and was intrigued by it.
The other reviews have summed up the plot pretty well, so I won't bore you with more of that.
PU-239 is a dark suspense Russian gangster movie, with alot of comedy mixed in. The acting in the movie is pretty good, considering the mostly unknown cast.
A great dvd to check out if your looking for someting a little out of the ordinary!
Highly recommended! "
Another solid HBO film
P.K. Ryan | Albany, NY USA | 06/02/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Set in 1990's Russia, this compelling drama follows a scientist (Considine) who suffers severe radiation poisoning on the job. His employers claim the incident was his fault and refuse compensation, even going so far as to produce a false radiation test that downplays the extent of his exposure. Out of work, dying, and with a wife and son to look after, the desperate scientist steals a vial of plutonium with the intention of selling it on the black market. He subsequently becomes involved with some dangerous criminal types, the type that became so common in this time period in Russia, and his life becomes intertwined with theirs. The tragic drama unfolds as the man desperately seeks to make some money for his family before his inevitable death. The film, although sad and serious, is laced with dark humor throughout. Considine's character also narrates the story, and I enjoyed the rather poetic element that this adds to the film. This movie is good for both the individual story and as a glimpse into this turbulent time period in Russia in general."
Fine Film in the Russian Tradition
John Guzlowski | Danville, VA | 11/25/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I love Russian literature and films. There's a profound darkness laced with a profound sense of humanity that makes these films and books work for me. Dostoevsky, Gogol, Tolstoy, Solzhenitszyn are writers I always want to read. They show us our failures and our despairs, but they do so in such a way that we end up feeling that we can finally succeed no mater what the cost.
PU 239 is a work that comes close to a mark set by those writers. It has a hero dying of radiation poisoning who is struggling to secure some money for his wife and son so that they will be able to survive after he's gone. This hero's determination and his philosophical musings will have you thinking about the film long after you've seen it.
What doesn't work as well in the film is the comic gangsters. The plot requires them, but their silliness undermines the existential situation of the dying hero."