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DVD Review: ‘The Burma Conspiracy’

★★☆☆☆

Apparently, philanthropy will get you killed. This is the problem facing Largo Winch (Tomer Sisley), the heir to a massive global corporation in Jérôme Salle’s The Burma Conspiracy (2011), the follow-up to 2008’s Largo Winch – Deadly Revenge, based on a Belgian comic book series by Jean Van Hamme and Phillipe Francq. The first movie’s light touch and Bourne-esque conspiracy-thriller style was both engaging and fun. Sadly, the sequel does not live up to its predecessor.

An overly complicated plot unfolds over the course of two hours, with little real intrigue involved, a monotony leavened only by some of the truly preposterous action sequences. Largo does something to upset Nazatchov (Dmitri Nazarov), a Russian oligarch. The filmmakers do not see fit to show us what Largo could possibly have done to cause the man to send a fleet of black SUVs full of armed heavies after him. Cars flip and explode etc.

Largo decides to sell his father’s company and reinvest the money into a humanitarian foundation, but is almost immediately subject to an investigation into his and his late father’s involvement in atrocities committed by soldiers under the command of General Kyaw Min (Nirut Sirichanya) in Burma, shortly after Largo had been living in the region. The audience is shown flashbacks of Largo living in peace with the locals. He has a beard, and relationship with a young woman, Malunaï (Napakpapha Nakprasitte). Largo must prove his innocence. And stop Nazatchov from buying his company.

Returning from the first film, Sisley – one of the weak links in the first movie’s otherwise strong cast – is just about as wooden as it is possible to be. Great personal tragedies befall Largo, as friends and lovers fall by the wayside. Yet Sisley’s features remain serene and unmoved, and he conveys emotion through a cunning system of vocalisation; sometimes his voice gets very loud and hurried (angry!) and other times very quiet (sad). The shining star of the first film was Kristen Scott Thomas’s corporate backstabber; the involvement of a credible screen presence is sorely lacking from The Burma Conspiracy. In place of Scott Thomas there is Sharon Stone, both underused and gratingly miscast as the international prosecutor leading the investigation against Largo. The role is flat and entirely undeveloped.

The Burma Conspiracy is not entirely devoid of entertaining moments, but some of the film’s key action sequence are so far-fetched as to elicit laughter, and the multi-lingual dialogue (in French, English, Thai and Serbian) is either unimaginatively translated or poorly written and delivered. Actually, in amongst the overwrought action and messy plotting, there are several amusing sequences in which Largo’s prissy butler, Gaultier (Nicolas Vaude), travels Thailand in search of the key to his employer’s defence. It is certainly not the equal of Largo Winch, but perhaps fans of the original will find enough to like about it.

David Sugarman