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69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A Man Is What He Fights For" - Soviet Search For Citizen X
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...
Published on July 1, 2004 by Sheila Chilcote-Collins

versus
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grim, gripping account of true-life serial killer
CITIZEN X

(USA - 1995)

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
TV soundtrack: Dolby Stereo

Based on a true story: In 1980's Russia, a low-paid forensics expert (Stephen Rea) struggles against the paranoia and bureaucracy of his Communist bosses during the search for serial killer Andrei Chikatilo (Jeffrey DeMunn), who has tortured, killed and...
Published on February 22, 2004 by Libretio


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69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A Man Is What He Fights For" - Soviet Search For Citizen X, July 1, 2004
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This review is from: Citizen X (DVD)
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"...
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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best "made-for-TV" movie I have seen, June 6, 2000
This review is from: Citizen X (DVD)
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!
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-watch, October 15, 2004
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This review is from: Citizen X (DVD)
"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.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Good A Thriller As Any In Theaters Near You, May 8, 2000
By 
A. Fultz (Santa Barbara, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Citizen X [VHS] (VHS Tape)
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.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant portrayal of the USSR, March 1, 2006
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This review is from: Citizen X (DVD)
This HBO movie about the world's most prolific 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.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Police Procedural, With A Great Performance By Rea, January 16, 2005
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Citizen X (DVD)
In the 1980's a serial killer was on the loose in Soviet Russia. He killed at least 52 people, most of them under 17, boys and girls alike. He usually abused them sexually and often in terrible ways. The position of the party during these years he was killing was that there were no serial killers in the Soviet Union; that this sort of thing was a decadent Western phenomenon. The reaction of the police as the early victims were discovered was one of apathy.

Citizen X is based on this true story. Steven Rea plays Viktor Burakow, a forensics man who is promoted to police lieutenant and told to find the killer. Donald Sutherland plays Col. Mikhail Fetisov, a career politician in the militia and Burakow's boss. Burakow is at first out of his depth, with no resources to call on and a high degree of contempt coming from the police he must work with. He proves, however, to be absolutely dedicated to catching this monster and relentless in going about it. It takes years. Donald Sutherland plays Fetisov as a cool and effective operator within the system, and who becomes just as dedicated to finding the killer and to protecting Burakow.

This is a first-rate police procedural that contains much political commentary on a system that was enmeshed in corruption, apathy and political blindness. The acting is outstanding; not just Rea and Sutherland, but Max von Sydow as a Moscow psychiatrist who eventually agrees to help draw up a profile of the killer. Von Sydow, when interviewing the killer after he is caught, somehow manages to convey a complex mixture of empathy and disgust. Jeffrey Demunn is equally effective as the killer, an insignificant man with terrible problems. Joss Ackland has a small but effective role as a repellant, powerful Communist official determined to keep things hidden. For those of you who have seen or plan to see Vera Drake with a great performance by Imelda Staunton, she plays Burakow's wife.

Citizen X was made as an HBO movie. It may not have all the bells and whistles in production values that a studio movie might have, but it looks very good and the story is effectively presented. Well worth adding to anyone's collection.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grim, gripping account of true-life serial killer, February 22, 2004
This review is from: Citizen X (DVD)
CITIZEN X

(USA - 1995)

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
TV soundtrack: Dolby Stereo

Based on a true story: In 1980's Russia, a low-paid forensics expert (Stephen Rea) struggles against the paranoia and bureaucracy of his Communist bosses during the search for serial killer Andrei Chikatilo (Jeffrey DeMunn), who has tortured, killed and cannibalized dozens of young people and children over a period of eight years.

Anchored by Rea's committed performance as the dogged pathologist-cum-detective who risked his reputation and livelihood in pursuit of Russia's most prolific mass murderer, TV movie CITIZEN X (a conflation of events outlined in Robert Cullen's book 'The Killer Department') points the finger of blame at an unyielding political system which allowed a monster to operate virtually unhindered for almost a decade. Veteran Brit actor Joss Ackland essays the role of a hardline Communist official whose allegiance to the State proves the single biggest obstacle to the apprehension of Chikatilo, while Donald Sutherland suffers manfully as the only high-ranking officer prepared to assist Rea's investigation, at great personal sacrifice.

Writer-director Chris Gerolmo's bleak but compelling film marshals a wealth of information, conveyed for the most part through dialogue rather than action, as the body count rises and the authorities struggle to hide their secrets from the outside world. Crucially, Chikatilo is portrayed as a desperate man, trapped in appalling social conditions (he's regularly humiliated by workmates and lives with a shrewish, loveless wife), whose repressed emotions and psychopathic tendencies find expression in appalling acts of violence (depicted mostly in long shot, with the worst mutilations occurring off-screen).

While the tone is generally grim, Gerolmo can't resist lightening the climax with typical Hollywood fripperies (cf. Rea's unlikely 'confrontation' with an angry crowd whose loved ones were murdered by Chikatilo), but that's a tiny lapse in an otherwise laudable production, which includes Max von Sydow in a small, but pivotal, cameo role. Technical credits are professional throughout, and performances are uniformly excellent.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific performances bring this shocking true story to life, August 20, 2000
This review is from: Citizen X (DVD)
I have always been a fan of true crime drama. Many leave much to be desired in the areas of writing and acting. "Citizen X" is not one of those movies. Superb acting and writing brings this unbelievably reprehensible tale to life. In my opinion this movie blows away "Silence of the Lambs." No fictional movie can ever match this true story! As the cover says, "52 murders in 8 years."
During the 8 years, Stephen Rea chases Citizen X, a prolific serial killer that stalks young victim in Russia. This is relatively a current event, as the story ends in 1990, a time when Communist Russia did not want to acknowledge a serial killer existed their country. This enabling denial permitted some of the most heinous murders in the world.
Donald Southerland, Max Von Sydow and Citizen X give outstanding performances. I recommend this movie highly. This refers to the DVD, which is Full-Screen (Originally produced for HBO).
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative Thriller based on real-life events., February 4, 2000
This review is from: Citizen X [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I'm a big Jeff DeMunn fan, so where he goes so go I.
Accordingly as HBO began to tease their upcoming made-for movie, Citizen X, I know nothing of a Russian serial killer, Andre Chikatilo (brilliantly played by DeMunn) nor filmmaker Chris Gerolmo who adapted and directed this tale under the made-for-HBO banner. I only know that if Jeff DeMunn is in it, it will be worth the watch.
And it was...even more so.
The story is true, of a dangerous Russian serial killer and molester of children, who's apprehension is delayed by a defensive Russian government. A government afraid to admit to themselves and to their people that such an animal can exist in Soviet Russia.(Chikatilo murdered 52 people)
A brilliant cast: DeMunn, Stephen Rea, Donald Sutherland, and Max Von Sydow are supported by stark and stunning Eastern European landscapes, and a nail-biter of a story that will not turn you loose.
Get out the popcorn and the pickles.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty and violent but surprisingly inspirational, April 24, 2006
By 
This review is from: Citizen X (DVD)
Of all the movies I've seen "set" in the former Soviet Union, this one manages best to show the reality. Stephen Rea, as Viktor Burakov, has what would be an interesting job as a forensic pathologist - except that he is hampered in what he can do or say by Soviet dogma and bureaucracy. When he learns that a serial killer is targeting kids and other vulnerables, luring them out of the city to rape and murder them, he is outraged (and frightened for his own children's safety). He is also determined to catch this man. Unfortunately, all of his superiors deny the possibility of communism ever producing such a deviant and refuse to give him even the smallest tools to help catch him. Many, many years pass, and Burakov diligently pursues murder after murder, forced by his superiors to take precious time out from true investigation to shake down other Soviet targets such as homosexuals (deemed dangerous by the Soviets). Finally, when communism collapses, he is allowed by his superior, Fetisov, the one man who has been sympathetic to his mission, to use modern tools such as computers and assigned adequate manpower to stage a hunt for this horrible killer who has been piling up the bodies for over twenty years.

All the leads here, Rea, Sutherland, and DeMunn, are very convincing, even if their Russian accents are not quite right. Also authentically Soviet are the buildings, streets, and extras. Since Burakov's real enemy here is the stagnation and apathy of communism, it would be inappropriate if the buildings he worked in, lived in, or searched were clean and tidy and well taken care of. Fortunately, they accurately reflect what is going on during the death throes of an unworkable ideology - this was a bleak place to exist.

DeMunn portrays Chikitilo as gray and passive/aggressive. He is eminently overlookable which explains why, when caught the first time, he is released. It also explains how he lured all of these kids to their deaths without anyone taking notice of him. And while he is clearly a monster, there are scenes in which DeMunn manages to inject humanity and pathos making him seem pathetic in addition to being evil.

Burakov's relentless pursuit of this killer despite the odds and what it cost him personally and emotionally are what make the final moments of the movie so touching. This movie is difficult to watch as it does not shy away from the violence being committed (though what is shown is not gratuitous), but ultimately, it's the saga of one man's determination to do what is right and outwait an apathetic regime. Very satisfying.
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Citizen X
Citizen X by Stephen Rea (DVD - 2000)
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