Angry Embassy: Denmark
The Original: Susanne Bier’s Brødre (2004), about the love triangle between an MIA soldier, his wife and his brother.
The Makeover: Jim Sheridan’s version - in cinemas today - joins the dozens of raw recruits ( Lions For Lambs , The Hurt Locker , etc) that have already enlisted to fight the 'war on terror' Hollywood-style.
Yet, by casting young and handsome (Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal), this one looks like a particularly dark episode of The O.C.
Moment You Know You’re Watching a Hollywood Movie: Maguire’s post-traumatic Marine reveals his inner turmoil by giving it the full-on, bug-eyed, shouty treatment... For Your Consideration.
The Departed (2006)
Angry Embassy: Hong Kong
The Original: Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s Mou gaan dou , aka Infernal Affairs (2002), about a cop and gangster who trade places when they go deep undercover into each other’s organisations.
The Makeover: Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning return to the mean streets of the Mob, although for once it’s Boston – rather than Noo Yawk – that provides the backdrop.
The basic plot’s the same, but Scorsese takes advantage of his high-calibre players (Leo DiCaprio as the cop, Matt Damon as the gangster) to add nearly an hour’s worth of additional angst.
Moment You Know You’re Watching a Hollywood Movie: Every time Mark Wahlberg’s character – who has no real equivalent in Infernal Affairs – opens his mouth to unleash a tirade of foul-mouthed hilarity.
True Lies (1994)
Angry Embassy: France
The Original: Claude Zizi’s La Totale! aka The Jackpot! (1991), a comedy about a businessman who’s really a secret agent. Trouble is, his bored housewife doesn’t know, and is thinking of straying.
The Makeover: James Cameron’s only foray into comedy...although you probably wouldn’t know it. Cameron reverses the original’s joke by replacing unassuming spy Thierry Lhermitte with superhuman Arnie Schwarzenegger, the world’s least likely office drone.
Oh, and he spends the GNP of a small nation on explosions. The action is so full-on the film’s ‘stop the affair’ mid-section feels like a bizarre aberration.
Moment You Know You’re Watching a Hollywood Movie: Villainous Salim Abu Aziz (Art Malik) is clinging to a missile on a Harrier jump-jet piloted by Schwarzenegger.
So, inevitably, Arnie hits the release button, utilising the bone dry wit that made him an action hero: “You’re fired!” Sir Alan, take note: this is how it should be done.
Angry Embassy: Russia
The Original: Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 sci-fi classic of the same name, about the bizarre psychological effect a sentient planet has on the inhabitants of an orbiting space station.
The Makeover: Steven Soderbergh’s third remake in a row after Traffic and Ocean’s 11 , produced by James Cameron and starring George Clooney. A big sci-fi action extravaganza, then?
Nope. Tonally, this is closer to Tarkovsky's austere metaphysics than Star Wars . That said, there's a smidgeon of commercial logic implicit in Soderbergh cutting the running time in half and narrowing the focus to the sudden arrival of Clooney's late wife (Natasha McElhone), recreated from his memories by Solaris.
Moment You Know You’re Watching a Hollywood Movie: When it becomes obvious that Soderbergh isn’t going to investigate the weirdness of Solaris beyond the emotional effect it has on the central couple.
As Stanislaw Lem, author of the source novel, put it: “I wanted to create a vision of a human encounter with something that…cannot be reduced to human concepts, ideas or images. This is why the book was entitled Solaris and not Love in Outer Space .
Scent Of A Woman (1992)
Angry Embassy: Italy
The Original: Dino Risi’s Profumo di donna (1974), about a young man’s rite of passage chaperoning a blind ex-soldier who is contemplating suicide.
The Makeover: Martin Brest’s remake is a custom-tooled showcase for Al Pacino to strut his stuff en route to his long-overdue Oscar. Elbowing out the quiet, understated approach of the original's star Vittorio Gassman, Pacino's Frank Slade is feisty, frisky and very loud. Hoo-hah!
Not content with exploring how ward Charlie (Chris Donnell) copes with Slade, Brest gives Charlie a subplot full of trouble at school for Slade to sort out come the final reel.
Moment You Know You’re Watching a Hollywood Movie: Charlie road-tests a Ferrari and foolishly lets Slade – who, lest we forget, is blind – drive at high speed through the Manhattan streets. Perhaps surprisingly, this scene doesn't appear in Profumo di donna.
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Angry Embassy: Japan
The Original: Akira Kurosawa’s Shichinin no Samurai aka Seven Samurai (1954), the epic story of a village beset by bandits who turn to seven masterless ronin for protection.
The Makeover: Kurosawa’s masterpiece was inspired by the Westerns of John Ford, so director John Sturges simply returned the favour.
It’s a remarkably faithful return bar the loss of the original's subtle vein of social comment. The biggest differences are a beefed-up role for chief villain Eli Wallach and the understandable decision to switch samurai swords for revolvers.
Moment You Know You're Watching A Hollywood Movie: If the irrepressible strains of Elmer Bernstein’s fanfare score don’t give the game away with seconds,you’re probably deaf.
If you are deaf (in which case, sorry for being a bit callous), try the Seven's sheer star-wattage: Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn…and the other two.
(Yeah, yeah, we know: Brad Dexter and Horst Buchholz. But they're not exactly household names...)
The Vanishing (1993)
Angry Embassy: The Netherlands
The Original: George Sluizer’s Spoorloos (1988), about a man’s obsessive quest to find out what happened to his girlfriend when she disappears from a service station.
The Makeover: With the original a respectable art-house hit, Sluizer himself was invited to direct the studio remake with Kiefer Sutherland and a pre-fame Sandra Bullock as the separated couple, and a mentalist Jeff Bridges as the stranger who claims to know what's happened to Bullock.
Shame Bridges can’t explain what happened to Sluizer, who replaces the clammy, cerebral terror of the original with a series of chases and a bolted-on happy ending.
Moment You Know You’re Watching a Hollywood Movie: The last five minutes, which laboriously undercut the original’s harrowing twist ending. We wish they'd vanish.
Angry Embassy: Argentina
The Original: Fabian Bielinsky’s Nueve Reinas aka Nine Queens (2000), about a veteran con artist who takes a protégé under his wing to plot an elaborate scam.
The Makeover: Gregory Jacobs’ L.A.-set remake, co-written under a pseudonym by remake whore Steven Soderbergh, buddies up cynical pro John C.Reilly with fresh-faced pipsqueak Diego Luna.
Their target: the wealthy residents of Beverley Hills, the class-war element providing a vague echo of the original’s subtext about Argentinian recession but also, conveniently, bringing that Hollywood bling.
Moment You Know You’re Watching a Hollywood Movie: The bizarre change of Macguffin from rare stamps in the original (the Nine Queens of the title) to some old currency.
The only reason we can think of is that studio execs took one look at the script, thought it was about stamp collecting and ordered a rewrite.
Angry Embassy: Norway
The Original: Erik Skjoldbjærg’s 1997 thriller - also called Insomnia - about a detective (Stellan Skarsgård) struggling to solve a murder in an Arctic town because the ever-present sunshine is impairing his judgement
The Makeover: Christopher Nolan’s transposition of the action to Alaska gets the film's stunning visual irony - it's a sun-bleached noir - spot on.
The mind games and psychological thrills remain, too, although where Skjoldbjærg never explained his cop's ambiguities, anti-hero Al Pacino gets a hefty backstory about an Internal Affairs investigation to provide him with a redemptive character arc.
Moment You Know You’re Watching A Hollywood Movie: Pacino fires a bullet into the corpse of a dog to fake forensic evidence he needs to stay out of trouble.
Wait – that’s a Hollywood moment? Sure, when you consider that, in the original, the dog Skarsgård shoots is still alive.
The Uninvited (2009)
Angry Embassy: South Korea
The Original: Kim Ji-woon’s psychological horror Janghwa, Hongryeon , aka A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) , aabout two sisters witinessing inexplicable events while under the care of their dodgy stepmum.
The Makeover: Having spent the past decade working through Japanese horror’s new wave ( The Ring , The Grudge , The Et Bleeding Cetera ), Hollywood makes a start on the K-horror back catalogue.
The story’s much the same in The Guard Brothers' version, except the rougher edges are toned down for that marketable PG-13 cert and everybody is unfeasibly good looking – including the token boyfriend, a superfluous addition that dilutes the sisters' central relationship.
Moment You Know You’re Watching a Hollywood Movie: Is it strictly necessary for the teenage sisters to be in a permanent state of near-undress? It is? Demographics, you say? Oh, okay. Just checking.
Vanilla Sky (2001)
Angry Embassy: Spain
The Original: Alejandro Amenábar’s Abre los ojos aka Open Your Eyes (1997), about a man’s attempts to rebuild his shattered life after a jealous ex leaves him hideously disfigured.
The Makeover: An atypical Cameron Crowe project, dispensing with romance and rock’n’roll to dive into the original’s mix of psycho-drama and surreal sci-fi.
In one sense, at least, this is faithful – Penélope Cruz plays the same part she did in Abre los ojos . But there's no mistaking which side of the Atlantic she's on when her leading man is Tom Cruise.
Then again, there are moments you might not recognise Cruise, since he's off on one of those periodic handsome-mashing performances he gives to prove he's not just a smile (see also: Minority Report; Valkyrie ).
Moment You Know You’re Watching a Hollywood Movie: Cruise’s startling hallucination of being alone in an empty city replicates a scene from the original.
But Crowe’s decision to bring New York to a standstill so he can film in Times Square for a few seconds is the kind of grandiose gesture that only Hollywood muscle can deliver.
City of Angels (1998)
Angry Embassy: Germany
The Original: Wim Wenders’ art-house fave Der Himmel über Berlin , aka Wings of Desire (1987), about angels watching over the inhabitants of Berlin.
The Makeover: Brad Sieberling’s soft-focus romance zeroes in on a subplot of Wenders’ move – an angel who yearns to experience human life when he falls for a human hottie.
Cue doe-eyes all around as Cage's soppy spirit-guide mopes around after Meg Ryan's surgeon. Somehow, Cage playing an angel is the more plausible casting of the two.
Moment You Know You’re Watching a Hollywood Movie: The wannabe tear-tugging set-piece, as Cage and Ryan share a kiss that he can’t feel. The irony. The pathos. The sudden reappearance of our semi-digested lunch.
Right, that's enough, Hollywood. We're clipping your wings. No more international travel for you until you've learnt to stop buying remake rights to the first foreign film you see.