Thursday, November 10, 2011


Mathieu Kassovitz, 2000
Starring: Jean Reno, Vincent Cassel, Nadia Fares, Dominique Sanda

It was too much for me to resist. A French serial killer film starring two of my favorite actors, the inimitable Jean Reno and the sassy Vincent Cassel. I knew that there was no way this could actually be a good film, but I was stuck on the couch, hung over, and Comcast On Demand led me down a bad, bad path.

Fancypants Detective Niemans (Reno) is investigating a murder at an old, prestigious university in the middle of the French Alps. A corpse has been discovered with severed hands and removed eyeballs. Evidence leads him to the glaciers and he seeks out the help of Fanny, a glaciologist at the university. Nearby, free-spirited and lower ranking Detective Kerkerian (Cassel) is investigating the desecration of a local girl's grave. The two detectives are reluctantly drawn together as their case gets bloodier -- and much more confusing.

This movie actually makes no sense. Whatsoever. Without giving anything away, I can tell you that it's not really a serial killer movie, instead, it has to do with a conspiracy about scientists at the university doing genetic experiments. I feel totally flummoxed and have no idea what to say about it. It's not really a good film, so I can't recommend it, but I almost want other people to see how much of a ridiculous, nonsensical mindfuck it is. It's been a long time since I've seen a film that doesn't attempt to explain anything and instead spends the duration of the running time focused on three key things. First, the film revels in how awesome Reno and Cassel are and essentially lets them wander through the set pieces doing completely cool but implausible things. Second, a lot of attention is paid to the gory dead bodies and The Crimson Rivers really makes an effort for them to be disgusting and to live up to its title. Finally, there are many shots of the sprawling, magnificent scenery. If there is a reason to watch this, the shots where Reno and Fares go down into the glaciers is it. It's truly breathtaking.

The Crimson Rivers is entertaining, but in a big dumb action film sort of way; there are even some great fights and chase scenes. It's more of a thriller than a horror film and is based on a novel of the same name by Jean-Christophe Grange, who actually co-wrote the script. I wonder if it made any more sense to him?

If you do decide to watch it, make sure you track down the Sony DVD. Do not, I repeat DO NOT watch it on Comcast if that option is available to you. For some reason, probably because Americans are stupid, they decided to dub the film into English. The three leads all dub their own voices, which is bizarre but OK. Everyone else is dubbed with these horribly generic American robot voices that probably made the film see much more ridiculous than it already is.

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