Crimson Rivers: Angels of the Apocalypse Olivier Dahan

Written by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) and starring Jean Reno, the pairing of the principals behind the excellent and criminally overlooked Leon The Professional seems like a boon for the sequel of the little known (at least in North America) 2000 French film Crimson Rivers. A beautifully shot, gory Seven-esque style thriller, Crimson Rivers revealed itself methodically but lost the plot in its climax and with some incongruous, though cool, elements. Unfortunately, its sequel, Crimson Rivers: Angels of the Apocalypse, follows the same "start strong and abstract, end weak and concise" trajectory but loses much of the gore and breathtaking nature shots (much of the original was shot on a glacier), trading in its suspense elements for more action and a plot that starts off hidden, slowly reveals itself then loses it towards the end. Of course, it still has Jean Reno as grizzled inspector Pierre Niemans, but replaces his young hot shot partner of the first (Vincent Cassel) with an even younger hotshot (Benoît Magimel) as they follow a trail of deceased "apostles" to the underlying conspiracy that has fucking Saruman (Christopher Lee) as the maniacal Nazi (seriously) who plans to fashion a new-Europe with a religious relict. Sure, the plot is a little iffy and the ninja-like monks, well, bizzare, but taken as a straight-up subtitled action film with a little suspense thrown in, it's not terrible, but fails to equal its predecessor or provide much insight/background for Reno's Niemans. While the special features are small in number, they feature a substantial "making of," which strays from the typically American-style of "making ofs" with lots of movie shots and talking heads, to footage of people actually shooting the film, with the occasional interview, some featuettes on various aspects of the film and a deleted scene. Ninja Monks? WTF!? (Columbia/Sony)