A genre piece bereft of pacing or any compelling raison d'etre (except that moms who produce snuff films probably shouldn't have custody of their children), "The Red Siren" is an ambitious misfire from customarily savvy Gallic producer-distrib Haut & Court.

A genre piece bereft of pacing or any compelling raison d’etre (except that moms who produce snuff films probably shouldn’t have custody of their children), “The Red Siren” is an ambitious misfire from customarily savvy Gallic producer-distrib Haut & Court. Intended as a tale of redemption in which a mercenary ends up protecting a young girl on the lam from her powerful, debased mother, pic is an onslaught of mannered, overblown lensing.

Filmmakers mistakenly believe they’re exploring important themes as pic starts in “Eastern Europe … Wartime” and, post-credits, shifts to “Western Europe … Later.” Young Alice (Alexandra Negrao) asks for Det. Anita Staro (Asia Argento, quasi-credible) and hands over a CD-ROM of her missing nanny getting snuffed with a chainsaw. “My mother — she kills people,” insists Alice. “Untouchable” biz tycoon Eva K. (Frances Barber) wants her daughter back and sends a pan-European hit squad (led by thesp Jean-Marc Barr) to retrieve her. Bloodbaths ensue. English-lingo dialogue is perfunctory at best, cartoonish at worst. Script is adapted from the dense first novel by noirish cult sci-fi author Maurice G. Dantec.

The Red Siren

French

Production

A Haut & Court release of a Haut & Court presentation of a Haut & Court, StudioCanal, France 2 Cinema production, in association with Comstock, with participation of Canal Plus. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Produced by Simon Arnal-Szlovak, Carole Scotta. Directed by Olivier Megaton. Screenplay, Norman Spinrad, Robert Conrath, Alain Berliner, Megaton, based on the novel by Maurice G. Dantec.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Denis Rouden; editor, Yann Herve; music, Nicolas Bikialo; production designer, Herve Leblanc; costume designer, Isabelle Fraysse. Reviewed at UGC Orient Express, Paris, Sept. 12, 2002. English dialogue. Running time: 115 MIN.

With

Jean-Marc Barr, Asia Argento, Frances Barber, Andrew Tiernan, Alexandra Negrao, Edouard Montoute, Vernon Dobtcheff, Johan Leysen, Jean-Christophe Bouvet, Carlo Brandt, Francois Levantal.
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