Plot: What’s it about?
A series of brutal murders has the whole of Paris on edge, as the killer has chosen a sick, tortuous method with which to dispatch his victims. The murders have more than death in common, as all of the victims had been crucified. That alone is reason is enough to conclude that the murders have some kind of religious connection, so Inspector Niemans (Jean Reno) explores that venue right from the start. He is joined by the younger officer Reda (Benoit Magimel), though the partnership began in a strange way. While Niemans patrolled a crime scene, Reda accidentally ran down a man who looked just like Jesus Christ. When a man tries to kill the accident victim, Reda and Niemans wind up as a team. The two search out theology experts and manage to uncover some serious ties between the murders and an underground religious movement. But when the movement has ties to people in positions of immense power, will the investigation be halted? If not, can Niemans and Reda learn the truth in time, or will they be the next victims?
This is a sequel I was a little surprised to see made, but The Crimson Rivers did draw some attention, so maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. The first film was by no means a masterpiece, but it was an above average thriller with some excellent moments. This sequel brings back Jean Reno (The Professional, Wasabi), which is great news, but his original costar Vincent Cassell is absent, which isn’t great news. But Reno steps up in the solo lead with skill, as expected. He has a strong screen presence and is the kind of actor audiences can connect with, which isn’t all that common. I was thrilled to see Christopher Lee (Star Wars: Episode II, Sleepy Hollow) on the cast list and he is good when on screen, but he isn’t around much. Even so, his presence adds a lot to the movie and on the whole, the cast here is terrific. But not all the pieces fall into place and in the end, this sequel fails to reach the level of the original. There is a solid story here and the movie is by no means bad, but it could have been much more, no doubt.
Video: How does it look?
Crimson Rivers: Angels of the Apocalypse is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Although not one of Columbia’s best transfers of late, this effort is quite good and for a movie that gathered dust for a few years, I’d say this presentation is more than solid. The flaws include speckles on the print, some softness, and spots of edge enhancement, but these remain minor in all cases and as such, I can’t see too many viewers being let down here. I found colors to be warm and error free, while contrast is bold and accurate at all times, no detail loss in the least. As I mentioned, this visual effort has some small problems, but still stands as a good looking treatment.
Audio: How does it sound?
As this movie relies on atmosphere for tension, its needs a top level soundtrack and the included Dolby Digital 5.1 option more than delivers. I saw this film in a low end theater and was let down by the audio, but in this DVD edition, the audio is superb and one of the more complex, effective tracks I’ve heard of late. The musical score takes full advantage of the surrounds, immersing the audience in the haunting music, which adds a lot to the experience. The bass is deep here too, much deeper than you’d expect, given the material. This disc also includes an English language track, as well as subtitles in English and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This includes five behind the scenes featurettes, each of which focuses on a specific production element, as well as a deleted sequence. The featurettes contain a wealth of inside information, but I would have liked to had an audio commentary track as well.