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Red Siren
cast: Asia Argento, Jean-Marc Barr, Frances Barber, Andrew Tiernan, and Alexandra Negrào

director: Olivier Megaton

104 minutes (18) 2002
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Tartan DVD Region 0 retail
Also available to buy on video

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Steven Hampton
Shot in a stark and moody fashion, Red Siren (aka: La Sirène rouge) is bristling with hi-tech weaponry, wreathed in gun smoke and dust kicked up by such heavy ordnance, and peopled with morally ambiguous characters. Runaway 12-year-old Alice (Alexandra Negrào), reports her own rich-bitch mother Eva (British actress Frances Barber, chewing up scenery as a malicious international business mogul) to police for the murder of a nanny - offering a 'snuff movie' on DVD as homicide evidence. Sympathetic detective Anita (Asia Argento, xXx) wants to help, but the wealthy and powerful Eva proves to be 'above' the law, so Alice flees from police custody. Guilt-ridden assassin Hugo (Jean-Marc Barr, the co-star of Luc Besson's The Big Blue, 1988) is haunted by his unintentional killing of a young boy during the recent wars in Eastern Europe, and he believes that helping Alice to locate her missing father in Portugal will offer him a chance at some kind of redemption...
   Featuring the most exciting and stylishly filmed indoor gun battles since Leon (aka: The Professional, 1994) - the one film Red Siren obviously resembles, this is a low-key psychological thriller that's only letdown by the relative monotony of its non-action scenes and the all-too-easily predictable development of both its main plot and the principal characters. Curiously, among four credited screenwriters is SF author Norman Spinrad, but this isn't the sort of film that follows a script very closely, it's one based on the filmmakers' unique vision. Cinematographer Denis Rouden has a keen eye for making colour and dramatic movement (or the lack of either) evoke particular emotions, and the picture's largely brooding atmosphere owes a lot to his arty camerawork. Olivier Megaton isn't a familiar name, but I do think that his earlier movies might be worth tracking down if they're directed as stylishly and visualised as powerfully as this decidedly fascinating example.
   Tartan's region-free DVD release has a choice of Dolby digital 5.1 mix or DTS Surround options and a decent anamorphic transfer but no subtitles whatsoever. Although the DVD packaging states its aspect ratio is 1.77:1 the film is favourably presented in scope format, and runs a full ten minutes longer than marked. Disc extras are limited to a couple of trailers. There's also an illustrated insert booklet with film notes by Sloan Freer.
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