A strong sense of place was one of the many strengths of Matthieu Kassovitz's under-rated crowd-pleaser 'The Crimson Rivers,' one of the best French thrillers in years, but, despite including dying steel towns, artificial lakes, monasteries and even the Maginot Line among its locations, it's one of the many things missing from its in-name-only sequel. Other notable absences include confident direction, decent plotting, concise characterisation and a real sense of conviction in its larger than life premise, not to mention almost anybody associated with the original.
With only Jean Reno returning and Luc Besson providing the very uninspired script, my expectations for this were extremely low but, in all fairness, it wasn't as bad as I expected. But then, it wasn't very good either - just relentlessly average, predictable and forgettable. None of the class or style of the first one, weak TV-show characterisation (right down to the terrible 'end on a joke' cop show cliché) and an old hat religious conspiracy plot that rehashes a few elements of the original (chasing super-strong hooded figures, Nazi conspiracies, etc) to little effect. The writing is pretty lazy and the ending straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark without the supernatural effects, but if you pitch your expectations low it passes the time. But it's very easy to see why Kassovitz, Vincent Cassel and composer Bruno Coulais didn't come back for this one: I'm willing to bet that if anyone else but Bresson wrote it, Reno would have skipped it too.
A good package of extras are included, but you need to pitch your expectations low for the film itself.