Les rivières pourpres 2 – Les anges de l’apocalypse [The Crimson Rivers 2: Angels Of The Apocalypse] (2004)

(In French, In theaters, August 2004) There’s no use pretending that this is a classic for the ages, but this darkish thriller not only feels better than the original film, it represents a small step up for Luc Besson’s screenplays. Oh, it’s still rife with silly stuff, coincidences and frustrating developments, but at least it’s not as broadly silly as some of his more recent material such as Taxi 3 and Yamakasi. Even his dumb ideas have a certain panache: It’s hard not to smile at a film mixing apocalyptic imagery, monk ninjas and Nazi revivalists. (Whew!) Sure, the characters are wafer-thin and the conclusion is lame… but when the entire film is so drenched in atmosphere, there’s reason enough to be interested. Olivier Dahan does a fine job at the helm, showing what he’s capable of in a series of spooky scenes that borrow much from other films but still manage to create an appropriate atmosphere. (Ooh, crucifixes) Jean Reno is as good as usual in his reprise of “Commissaire Neimans” while newcomer Benoît Magimel is a good-enough replacement for Vincent Cassel’s character in the original. It all adds up to a pleasant-enough film, perhaps a bit tired about the 1999 wave of “Christian apocalypse” horror films (Bless The Child, Stigmata, End Of Days, etc.) but nonetheless not too shabby.

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