The Good

The Bad

Crimson Rivers: Angels of the Apocalypse is a sequel to another movie simply titled The Crimson Rivers. The movie begins with Chief Niemans(Jean Reno) investing a a group of murders in which the people killed were all offed in the same way. They were crucified. He soon teams up Reda(Benoit Magimel) and with the help of someone who is well schooled in religious mythology they uncover a mysterious group who is behind the killings.

I often don’t go out for religious/serial killing movies. They are oftentimes too darkly lit, too moody and too rudimentary for my tastes. I mean, when have you ever seen some big star killed off by the devil. It never happens and thus further seems to say that Hollywood clout is enough to thwart satan. This film was pretty much like this in that regard but there was something about the acting, the relationship between Reda and Niemans that hooked me into this story. While it was nothing I hadn’t seen before and in many respects reminded me of

End of Days, I still found there to be enough redeemable qualities to this movie to enjoy it.

I also have to commend the filmmakers on their use of the song “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. If Iggy Pop did nothing else in his life, he created music that seems to be finding a life of its own through a new generation of moviemakers(see The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou to see how perfectly Wes Anderson uses “Search and Destroy” when Zissou’s boat is attacked by pirates). I thought the images on the screen, mixed in with the music was a perfect fusion between the mediums. As this happened early on, it further enhanced what an enjoyable moviewatching experience this was.


Deleted Scene

This is a longer scene inside a strip club. It isn’t very long at all and I am sort of wondering why they even put it on this disc. It mainly centers around a conversation between Niemans and Reda as they try and piece together what is happening. I don’t know how great the subtitled dialogue would sound in English, but hearing these guys deliver it in French really adds something. Why this is I have no idea, I just think it’s the way the words are said and accented.

Making of Featurette

An interesting look at what director Olivier Dahan and his team went through in order to make this movie. There is nothing small about what they were trying to accomplish or the scope of the film. I was very impressed not only with the skeleton crew that he seemed to work with, but with the ability that these guys have to stretch the budget and make these epic looking films. I may be a little quick in my judgment, but I think Mr. Dahan is someone who is going to be making films on our shores very soon. This guy is like a cross between Peter Jackson and David Fincher.

5 Behind the Scenes Featurettes

Broken up into lighting, weapons, design, corpses and sound design I was rather impressed with the breadth of material for by what all accounts just seems like a “straight to video” movie. I found it interesting learning about how these things were done, and I was taken with the passion that it seems everyone brings to the project. The people making this movie seem like they are on a mission. That there are big ideas and subjects that they are trying to get across, all while making this as entertaining a movie as possible. If that isn’t a tightrope then I have no idea what is.


Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I don’t know what the budget for this movie was, but it looks phenomenal. Every aspect of this darkly told tale is richly textured, with a lush almost noir-like quality. I was particularly impressed because having never heard of this movie or the first one, I had no idea what to expect. Nothing to base my judgment or thoughts on. I have done some searching around on the World Wide Internet and it seems like, as with most sequels, the fans liked the first movie better. As I am not a fan and no nothing about these movies, I take solace in the fact that with no frame of reference I was tossed into this “Crimson world” and I ended up liking this film a whole lot. I usually don’t go for such darkly toned pictures, with such darkly drawn characters but there was something about this movie. The scope, the breadth and depth of the piece just spoke to me in such way that I don’t think it matters that I didn’t see the first film.


Dolby Digital. You can also listen to this movie in English, French(Parisian) 5.1. It was even mastered in High Definition. A film like this needs to have high quality sound. In many ways it seems as if it was made for the home theater experience. Everything about the sound design is top notch and the images and tone blend together to really enrich this film. I loved how it got quiet in parts when the characters were simply talking, although it used foreboding music to warn us that things would not be quiet for long. Normally, I don’t like music guiding a movie in one way or the other, but in this instance I felt that it worked quite well. Again, I think my expectations for this particular movie had been so low that I when I actually got down to the brass tacks of watching it, it was easy to be pleasantly surprised.


Everything that Jean Reno does looks like some offshoot of the The Professional. I don’t know why this is and I also find it interesting that it seems like he has more hair now then he did when did that seminal movie years ago. The front cover is a mixture of red and gold, with Reno holding a gun and then some people with those guns that shoot arrows in the background. The back features some more shots from the movie, Christ imagery and a description of what the movie is about as well as a listing of the various special features that come with this disk. Not bad stuff, and there’s something about this movie that makes me wonder if it was ever released theatrically. This just seems like the kind of movie that would have developed some type of cult-following. It is a sequel so it obviously has even though I had never heard about this film until now. The packaging just looks good, and actually, it sort of reminds of the cover of Joe Carnahan’s Narc.

Final Word

Crimson Rivers: Angels of the Apocalypse is a solidly done movie. It isn’t something I think needs a third installment, but if I am going to watch a darkly lit, religious movie, I would take this any day over the dreck that it seems like we American’s make in this form. Now not get me wrong, I agree with Peter Bogdanovich that many of the best movies “are made in Hollywood”. I am certainly a fan and champion of my countries cinema. I just think that too many movies look like MTV videos or television commercials.

Yes, Crimson Rivers: Angels of the Apocalypse looked like this. In fact it looked a lot like those things, I just found that Jean Reno and Benoit Magimel were so strong within the boundaries of their roles that I was able to actually get passed the form, to enjoy the content. Any movie that can do this has got to be worth something, right?

Crimson Rivers 2: Angels of the Apocalypse was released February 18, 2004.