You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Burma Conspiracy

Far-flung locales look mostly striking, but the far-fetched plot machinations, choppy editing and wildly uneven acting aren't a pretty sight.

With: Tomer Sisley, Sharon Stone, Ulrich Tukur, Mame Nakprasitte, Olivier Barthelemy, Nicolas Vaude, Clemens Schick, Laurent Terzieff, Miki Manojlovic. (French, English, Thai, Karen, Russian, Serbian dialogue)

Daredevil dreamboat billionaire Largo Winch is back in “The Burma Conspiracy,” Gallic helmer Jerome Salle’s second live-action feature about the Belgian comicbook character. This time, Winch goes up against a U.N. prosecutor — played by an often embarrassingly cross-legged Sharon Stone — who accuses him of crimes against humanity committed in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Far-flung locales look mostly striking, but the far-fetched plot machinations, choppy editing and wildly uneven acting aren’t a pretty sight. Locally, fanboys have flocked to this heavily promoted mid-February release, but offshore chances beyond Francophone territories and international satcasters remain slim.

In the first film, hunky go-getter Largo (a steely Tomer Sisley, encoring) inherited a global business empire worth billions after the adoptive dad he hardly knew, Nerio Winch, was brutally murdered. “The Burma Conspiracy” goes back and forth between “three years earlier,” when Nerio (Miki Manojlovic) was still alive, and “three years later,” when a foxy U.N. prosecutor, Diane Francken (Stone), turns up on Largo’s doorstep — actually, his frigate-sized private yacht — to accuse him of being involved in the massacre of a Burmese village. Francken believes Largo was, at the time, working for his dad, as the Winch Corp. had an interest in the region’s minerals, even though the two men were estranged at the time. English-language title does little to hide that this is, of course, all a setup.

A ludicrously over-the-top car chase in a former Soviet republic — clearly inspired by “Quantum of Solace” in its ostentatious first-reel placement, meat-grinder approach to editing and drained color palette — also figures into the entangled storylines, with Salle and co-screenwriter Julien Rappenau again demonstrating they’re adherents of the complicated-rather-than-complex school of plotting and exposition.

The outlandish conspiracy contains too many characters, motives and temporal jumps to keep track of, and personalities such as Largo’s precious butler, Gauthier (Nicolas Vaude), are never convincingly tied into the story. Somewhat awkwardly designed as comic relief, Gauthier spends a good portion of the film either alone or in the company of Simon Ovronnaz (Olivier Barthelemy, looking like an extra from “The Beach”), whom fans of the books will recognize as one of Largo’s buddies.

Much of the narrative seems designed around the action sequences, rather than the other way around. Undoubtedly the reason for the film’s popularity with teenage males, these setpieces are often impressively staged, though a fight sequence after a tumble from a plane — actually filmed with Sisley midair — looks as though it were shot on an iPhone.

This slapdash attention to technical consistency also extends to the editing. Salle proudly showcases the fact that Sisley does all his own stunts in an early mano-a-mano fight in the jungle — using longer takes and clear spatial choreography — only to hack a later scene, in which Largo and his Burmese g.f. (Mame Nakprasitte) are ambushed in their hotel, into incomprehensible bits.

Sisley’s again in his element, and he’s much better at keeping a straight face throughout than Stone, whose character is muddily conceived and never credible; her white dress and the crucial positioning of her legs play more like an ill-conceived parody of than homage to the role that made her famous. Among the large supporting cast, only the late Laurent Terzieff impresses as a hollow-faced friend of Largo’s dad.

Shot in Hong Kong, Thailand, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, the U.K. and France, the widescreen actioner at least offers some delicious landscapes, with Salle making especially good use of Thai locations.

Popular on Variety

The Burma Conspiracy


Production: A Pan-Europeenne, Wild Bunch Distribution (in France)/Cineart (in Belgium)/Wild Bunch Germany (in Germany) release of a Nathalie Gastaldo, Philippe Godeau, Wild Bunch presentation of a Pan-Europeenne, Wild Bunch, TF1 Films Prod., Casa Prods., IW Prod., Climax Films, RTBF, Wild Bunch Germany production, in association with Canal Plus, Cinecinema, with participation of Sgam Ai Cinema 2, Les Editions Dupuis, H&J, Philippe Francq. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Produced by Nathalie Gastaldo. Co-producers, Olivier Rausin, Marc Gabizon, Arlette Zylberberg. Directed by Jerome Salle. Screenplay, Julien Rappenau, Salle, based on the graphic novels "Fort Makiling" and "Hour of the Tiger" by Philippe Francq, Jean Van Hamme.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Denis Rouden; editor, Stan Collet; music, Alexandre Desplat; production designer, Laurent Ott; costume designer, Gabrielle Binder; sound (Dolby Digital), Marc Engels; assistant director, Brieuc Vanderswalm; casting, Gigi Akoka. Reviewed at Utopolis, Luxembourg, March 1, 2011. Running time: 118 MIN.

Cast: With: Tomer Sisley, Sharon Stone, Ulrich Tukur, Mame Nakprasitte, Olivier Barthelemy, Nicolas Vaude, Clemens Schick, Laurent Terzieff, Miki Manojlovic. (French, English, Thai, Karen, Russian, Serbian dialogue)

More Scene

  • Taron Egerton Elton John Rocketman Live

    Elton John and Taron Egerton Duet at 'Rocketman' Awards Season Event at the Greek Theatre

    “Rocketman” has officially launched into awards season. Paramount hosted a screening of the film with a live-performance of the score by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and a headlining performance by Elton John and the film’s star Taron Egerton. John and Egerton — who is in contention for best actor for his portrayal of the singer [...]

  • Hailee Steinfeld Dickinson Premiere

    Hailee Steinfeld, Jane Krakowski on What Modern Women Can Learn From Emily Dickinson

    Emily Dickinson lived in the 1800s, but if you ask the team behind Apple TV Plus’ upcoming series, “Dickinson,” her story is more current than ever. Hailee Steinfeld stars in the the modern-day retelling of the poet’s young life. The actress — who makes her first full-time foray into television with the role and also [...]

  • Don Cheadle

    ACLU Bill of Rights Gala to Honor Don Cheadle, Feature Appearances by Selena Gomez, Regina Hall

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California will honor “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Monday” star Don Cheadle at the organization’s annual Bill of Rights dinner on Nov. 17 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Cheadle will be recognized for his activist work as an advocate for racial and gender equality, immigration reform, reproductive and LGBTQ [...]

  • Helen Mirren attends the LA Premiere

    Why Helen Mirren Considers Catherine the Great to Be 'Superhuman'

    It’s no secret that Dame Helen Mirren has a knack for nailing regal roles. Following her Oscar-winning on-screen reign as Queen Elizabeth II back in 2006, the thespian brings yet another powerful ruler to life in HBO’s limited mini-series “Catherine the Great.” Just as she does on the small screen as Russian Empress Catherine II, [...]

  • Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit Premiere

    Why Director Taika Waititi Decided to Play Adolf Hitler in 'Jojo Rabbit'

    “Fox Searchlight blackmailed me into doing it,” Taika Waititi told Variety of playing Adolf Hilter in “Jojo Rabbit” at the film’s premiere at American Legion Post 43 on Tuesday night in Hollywood. Staying mum when asked which other actors had been on his wish list to play the role, Waititi explained why he eventually decided [...]

  • Jessica Biel Limetown Premiere

    Why 'Limetown' Star & Producer Jessica Biel Thought the Show Was Based on a True Story

    In a world of increasingly outlandish headlines, the story behind “Limetown” — in which an entire community in rural Tennessee disappears overnight — seems plausible. Even Jessica Biel, who executive produces and stars in the Facebook Watch television adaptation of the hit 2015 podcast, was initially convinced that it was real. “I just thought I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content