[Screen It]


(1998) (Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild Mild Heavy Mild Moderate
Mild None Minor None Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Mild Minor Mild Mild Moderate

Action/Adventure: A young but determined woman races against time to attain the one hundred thousand marks her boyfriend will owe a gangster in less than twenty minutes.
It's 11:40 a.m. and Lola (FRANKA POTENTE), an orange-haired young woman, has just received a frantic call from her boyfriend of one year, Manni (MORITZ BLEIBTREU). A courier for a local gangster, Manni successfully made a recent diamonds for cash exchange, but with Lola late to pick him up, was forced to return on the subway.

There, and due to a brief mixup, Manni inadvertently left the bag of cash on the subway car. Realizing he's as good as dead if he can't recover or dig up the 100,000 marks owed to his boss, Ronnie (Heino Ferch), and deliver it to him exactly at noon, Manni tells Lola that if she can't help him by then, he'll have to rob a nearby store for the cash.

With just twenty minutes to spare and no means of transportation beyond her own two feet, Lola goes flying out of the house, hoping to get the money from her wealthy banker father (HERBERT KNAUP). Of course, he doesn't believe her story and instead is trying to deal with his lover, Jutta Hansen (NINA PETRI) who has something important to tell him.

Thus, Lola goes flying from his office, desperate to stop Manni from robbing the store. With time running out and any obstacle in the way serving as a significant threat to her reaching him, Lola does what she can to get to Manni in time.

If they've heard the positive "buzz" about it, older teens might, but a subtitled German film with a mostly unknown cast won't be drawing huge crowds of kids.
For some violence and language.
  • MORITZ BLEIBTREU plays a small-time courier for a gangster who inadvertently loses the money he owes his boss. As such and quite frantic, he holds up a grocery store at gunpoint, cusses some and smokes a few times.
  • FRANKA POTENTE plays his orange-haired girlfriend who will do anything to help him. As such, she holds up two places at gunpoint and quickly tries to win the earnings in a casino. She also cusses a few times.
  • HERBERT KNAUP plays Lola's somewhat estranged father who's having an affair and doesn't want to help her.


    OUR TAKE: 7.5 out of 10
    Back in 1994, director Jan de Bont delivered a fun action thriller about a bomb on a bus that would detonate if the bus' speed dropped below 50 MPH. While the film's title, "Speed," more accurately described the directorial pacing than the actual rate of motion in which the bus traveled, there's a new film in town that follows a similar path.

    It's "Run Lola Run," a frenetic, eighty-some minute German film that could also be used as a slang definition for a certain amphetamine as it will certainly stimulate the central nervous system of anyone who sees it.

    Virtually nonstop in momentum, this whirlwind of a film will often leave audiences both breathless and exhilarated. When compared to the big budget, bloated Hollywood summer blockbusters that promise to deliver the goods but often don't, you certainly won't go wrong with this film that easily gives audiences the most revved up bang for your buck.

    The winner of the audience award at this year's Sundance Film Festival, "Lola" is the work of German writer and director Tom Tykwer ("Winter Sleepers"), a filmmaker determined to breathe some life back into what has become an otherwise dour German cinema. With a pulsating techno- pop score by Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil and Tykwer himself, as well as innovative camera work and rapid fire editing, Tykwer's mixture of film, video, animation and stills has clearly succeeded and certainly is a big heaping of delicious eye candy.

    As such, the film comes off as something of a clever combination of a trendy music video, an adventurous video game and a thrilling amusement park ride. That's because all of those clearly favor people looking for the quick or hyper thrill and this film certainly delivers all of that and more.

    It's due to the temporal elements, however, that the film most closely resembles those elements. Much like a music video that doesn't suffer from repeated viewings, a roller coaster that one repeatedly rides again and again for the same thrill, and a video game segment that can be reset back to the beginning if a player doesn't win, the film offers audiences versions of all three.

    By literally rewinding the clock and allowing the events to unfold before us again twice more, the film successfully plays off the old "what if" scenario commonly found in time travel stories. That part concerns the notion that just one minute change in the past -- such as leaving the house a moment later than before -- can have major ramifications.

    While the characters here don't knowingly travel back in time, they do receive several opportunities to relive the past -- and rather crucial -- twenty minutes of their lives. That may sound somewhat familiar to moviegoers, especially if they've seen recent films such as "Go!" "Twice Upon a Yesterday" or "Open Your Eyes" where the plot jumps through time and what you see isn't necessarily what you'll ultimately get.

    Whereas it might even most familiar with "Sliding Doors" in that various versions of the same story are told, there is a small, but crucial difference. Beyond the contrasting genres (this one's certainly not a romantic drama), while the Gwyneth Paltrow vehicle has parallel stories unfolding simultaneously from one seemingly insignificant change, this one plays out a mostly similar story three times from start to finish, where the minor change in each creates vastly different outcomes.

    That also holds true with some interesting little bits where we see near subliminal flash frames of miscellaneous characters' future lives and how they're affected by ever-so-slight changes in the way in which Lola runs past them or interacts with them on the street.

    Although one is never really sure if the two additional stories are "real" or just imagined scenarios (a point brought to our attention by early statements such as "How do we know what we think we know?" and "Why do we believe in anything at all?"), the fact that the audience has superior position -- where we know what happened in the early stories and then watch in anticipation to see how the new versions will vary -- keeps the proceedings both compelling and entertaining.

    Even so, for avid moviegoers the jumping through time "trick" may begin to start feeling a bit too familiar nowadays, especially after so many recent films have used that temporal device. What sets the film apart, however, is the sheer frenetic approach that Tykwer takes in telling the story. While most of those other films take their sweet time in unfolding, the thrill of this one comes from the near "damn the torpedoes" manner in which both the protagonist and her director tackle their respective goals.

    Fueled by the rhythmically pumping techno soundtrack, Tykwer stomps down on the accelerator and rarely lets up, often zipping the camera right alongside his protagonist or employing the old split screen effect so that the intensity is raised a notch or two.

    By combining cinematographer Frank Griebe's ("Winter Sleepers") often fun and quite hyper camera techniques and visuals with video clips, rapid fire stills and even similarly paced animation (all of which obviously kept editor Mathilde Bonnefoy quite busy), the film's overall effect may feel too experimental for some. Nevertheless, most will probably find it nothing short of mesmerizing.

    The same holds true for the performance by Franka Potente ("Am I Beautiful?," "Opernball") as Lola. Her sense of urgency is clearly defined and one finds themselves easily rooting for her to succeed despite knowing next to nothing about her.

    That's where the film runs into some problems. While the picture works quite well as a "ride," it needs a bit more subtext to make it more memorable, let alone allow it to be considered a classic in the genre.

    Much like the tenth ride on the same roller coaster may still be fun, it begins to suffer a bit from that "same old, same old" feeling where you wish there was more context to the proceedings. Although the film's a visceral blast to experience, you begin to wish that it had a bit more heart and soul and that we knew something more about these characters.

    Beyond Potente, the rest of them -- such as Lola's boyfriend played by Moritz Bleibtreu ("Knocking on Heaven's Door") -- are even less developed and easily could have been played in any sort of various ways by any number of performers without any noticeable impact on the overall proceedings. While we easily follow along simply due to the energy that Potente and Tykwer put into it, a bit more fat mixed in with the agile muscle would have made the film more tasty.

    Nonetheless, it's still a blast to watch and kudos should to Tykwer for reinvigorating a German film industry that had recently become rather full (and apparently not satisfactorily profitable). Once this young writer/director puts some more substance and emotion in his films, however, you'll see a real powerhouse of a filmmaker. Meanwhile, simply sit back, keep your arms and hands inside the car at all times, and enjoy the ride he's currently built for us. We give "Run Lola Run" a 7.5 out of 10.

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated, subtitled film. Profanity is heavy due to 4 uses of the "f" word, while other profanities and colorful phrases are also present (in English subtitles).

    Some instances of violence occur, such as a person accidently being shot in the chest and another being struck by a truck (with mild bloody results, plus we never really know whether they survive due to the story's rewind feature). Other more mild violence occurs, including people threatening others with guns.

    Those moments involve the protagonists' holding up various establishments for money, thus giving them bad attitudes, while a girl's father is having an affair and not only states he won't be coming home, but also belittles his young adult daughter.

    Some brief drinking and smoking occur, while a few flash frames show a woman and man acting and dressed in S&M outfits. We also see the protagonists in bed together, but don't see any activity or nudity. Beyond that, the remaining categories have little or nothing in the way of major objectionable content. As always, however, should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness, you should take a closer look at the listed content.

    For those concerned with repetitive flashes of light, some moments where still images are rapidly shown (like in a full-screen slide show) create such an effect.

  • We see three repeated views of Lola's mother with a drink, and a woman later states that Lola's mother is drunk from morning until night.
  • We see a split-second image of a woman and her husband who appear to have drinks in their hands and then a similarly brief image of what looks like a homeless man shooting up (heroin or something similar -- but the image is on the screen for a second or less).
  • People at a casino have drinks.
  • We see several split second images of a mildly bloody bike rider after he's had an accident.
  • We see the same of what appears to be a somewhat bloody surgical operation.
  • A person's chest is a little bloody after they've been accidently shot there and moments later we see a little bit of blood from the victim's mouth.
  • Some blood runs from a person's nose and mouth after they've been struck by a truck.
  • Manni is a courier for a gangster. When he realizes he needs to recoup the money he owes his boss, he robs a store at gunpoint.
  • Likewise, Lola robs her father's bank at gunpoint for the money required to save Manni's life.
  • In flashback we see someone steal Lola's moped.
  • A woman whom Lola repeatedly runs by calls her names (including "bitch") and is nasty toward her.
  • Lola's father is having an affair and not only tells her that he's not coming home, but also calls her various names and states that he's not her real father.
  • We see a cartoon character purposefully trip a cartoon version of Lola who then falls down several flights of stairs and has a brief limp after that.
  • The pulsating techno-pop soundtrack and the film's race against time structure may make some viewers a bit anxious about the proceedings (but not in a horror-film frightened fashion).
  • In addition, scenes listed under "Violence" may also be suspenseful or unsettling to some viewers.
  • Handguns: Used by Manni and Lola to rob several places.
  • Assault rifles/Handguns/Other guns: Aimed by the police at Manni and Lola in different scenes and once accidently fired by an officer, striking a person in the chest.
  • Phrases (In English subtitles): "F*ck off," "Bitch" (what a woman on the street calls Lola), "Dumb ass," "Screwed" (nonsexual), "Freak," "Shut up," "What the hell," "Nuts" (crazy), "Cracked" (crazy), "Weirdo," "You stupid cow" and "Slut."
  • Desperately needing money, Manni holds up a grocery store, Lola holds up her father's bank and then goes to a casino trying to make all the money in a quick win.
  • Since Lola comes off looking so cool, so kids may want to imitate her look (bright pinkish hair, multiple pierced ears and what looks like a tattoo on her belly (only partially seen).
  • None.
  • Some of the techno-pop score occasionally has a somewhat ominous tone to it.
  • None.
  • (In English subtitles): At least 4 "f" words, 6 "s" words, 7 damns, 2 asses and 1 hell are used as exclamations.
  • The woman with whom Lola's father is having an affair tells him that she's pregnant (and then that the baby isn't his).
  • Lola shows some cleavage in her tank-top (that also occasionally shows part of her bra).
  • We twice see Manni and Lola lying together in bed, but they're only talking and we can't see anything below their shoulders.
  • We briefly see several split-second images of a woman and a man dressed and acting in an S&M fashion (leather undergarments, etc... -- but it's extremely brief).
  • Manni smokes twice, while Lola and security guard each smoke once.
  • Lola tells Manni that she went to get some cigarettes and that's why she was late meeting him.
  • Lola's father is having an affair and not only tells her that he's not coming home, but also calls her various names or says bad things to her (such as "I never fathered a weirdo like you," and he calls her a "cuckoo's egg") and states that he's not her real father.
  • What one would do if faced with a similar predicament (having to raise a lot of cash in very little time).
  • How one seemingly insignificant event in one's life can (and always does) have major ramifications down the line.
  • We see a brief flashback where Ronnie head-butts Manni.
  • Two cars repeatedly crash into each other (in different versions of the same event).
  • Manni repeatedly beats a telephone in a public phone booth.
  • Lola occasionally screams so loud that various objects about her shatter.
  • Manni holds up a store at gunpoint and fires several warning shots into the air. When a security guard then holds his gun on Manni, Lola whacks him on the head/back with a heavy bag and grabs his gun. She then accidently fires it and nearly hits that guard who's now on the floor.
  • A cop accidently fires his weapon and the bullet strikes a person in the chest, sending them falling to the street.
  • We see a cartoon character purposefully trip a cartoon version of Lola who then falls down several flights of stairs and has a brief limp after that.
  • Lola's father smacks her (after she calls his lover a "slut" and a "stupid cow"), causing Lola to throw various objects in his office (including a wall painting) at him.
  • Lola grabs a security guard's gun and then alternately holds it on him, her father, and a teller in the bank as she robs the place. In one moment, she fires several warning shots into the wall near her father's head.
  • Lola shoots a security keypad with a gun to get through a locked door at the bank. Moments later, she encounters a SWAT team aiming various weapons at her.
  • A truck accidently smashes through a large pane of glass being carried across a street.
  • A truck accidently strikes and runs over a man crossing the street.
  • Manni chases a man on a bicycle and then eventually gets him to stop after aiming his handgun at him.
  • Two cars crash and a motorcyclist then crashes and flips over one of them, landing unconscious as are the occupants of one car.

  • Reviewed June 28, 1999 / Posted July 2, 1999

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