Red Siren

Dir: Olivier Megaton
Star: Jean-Marc Barr, Alexandra Negrao, Asia Argento, Frances Barber

This Euro-thriller roams uncomfortably between France and Portugal, tossing in an Italian lead actress and some English thugs, for no apparent reason other than EU subsidies, yet ends up entertaining enough, even if you can tick off the various influences as they happen. The most obvious of these is Leon: not only does it share the tough warrior (Barr) who ends up giving sanctuary to a young girl (Negrao), there's also a hotel battle in which our hero kicks ass mercilessly. Meanwhile, the girl's mother (Barber), who makes Cruella De Vil look like Mother Teresa, has sent her minions out to recapture her daughter, while cop Anita (Argento) wants the girl to help expose Mum's snuff-movie endeavours.

Ex-graffiti artist turned director Megaton cranks the style to the max, which is a double-edged sword: it jazzes up some scenes that might be dull, and simply confuses others, such as the hotel shootout. Barr has the right air of quiet confidence as Hugo, though Argento is underused, and her part largely pointless (even she herself described it as "a really dull role"). Indeed, a good twenty minutes could have been trimmed from the film, and the end result would likely have been tighter and more focused. Hard to see what contribution SF author Norman Spinrad made to the script - he's credited as one of the writers. Leon, this defininely isn't, and Megaton is no John Woo either, but this has its moments.

February 2005

Red Spell Spells Red
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