A fast-paced thriller in the spirit of Alfred Hitchcock, minus Hitch’s eye for a good story. Solid action makes up for the ludicrous plot, and these days, that’s probably enough.
As the pic opens, renowned botanist Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his wife Liz (January Jones in full ice queen mode) are about to land in a wintry Berlin for an important technical conference. Once they arrive at their hotel, though, Martin realizes that he has left his briefcase back at the airport.
Without telling Liz, Martin quickly hails a cab to return to the airport. Lucky for him, his cab is driven by the best-looking cab driver of all time—Gina (Diane Kruger). Not so lucky for him is that her car gets into a terrible accident, and flies off a bridge into the icy waters of the River Spree.
Poor Martin is knocked unconscious, but is pulled to safety by the much smaller Gina, and is taken to the hospital. When he regains consciousness, he has no identification, and for awhile does not even know his name—an apparent victim of amnesia. Within a few days, he remembers who he is, and heads back to his hotel.
If Martin wondered why his wife never searched for him, he gets the blunt answer upon his return to the hotel. Liz says she does not know who he is, and another Dr. Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn) appears, replete with full credentials proving his identity. Martin-1 protests, of course, but is soon thrown out of the hotel.
Realizing that Gina is the key to the mystery, in that she is the last one who saw him before his amnesia, he seeks her out, and begs her to help him. Wouldn’t you know that Gina is an illegal alien from Bosnia, complete with a tragic backstory. Still, she agrees to help him, and sets him up with Ernst Jürgen (Bruno Ganz), an ex-Stasi (East German secret police) agent with a heart of gold
It doesn’t take long for Jürgen to figure out most of what’s going on here, even if all three of them (Jürgen, Gina, and Martin) are now targeted for death.
The third act plays out amidst wild car chases, a brilliant showdown between Jürgen and the chief baddie, and a neat, mostly satisfying twist.
***SPOILERS AND OTHER COMMENTS***
I won’t reveal the twist since that qualifies as a mega-spoiler, which would pretty much ruin the movie for you. But, there are a few things that are worthy of further comment…
Jürgen figures out that Martin is caught up somehow in a major assassination plot. The problem is that it is so extravagantly and unnecessarily complicated. Moreover, the reason behind the hit is dubious, if not laughable.
In an example of PC gone nearly berserk, the pic features not one but two saintly illegal aliens, along with the inane prospect of a good guy ex-Stasi agent. No doubt, German auds will get a kick out of this, along with seeing the German Diane Kruger somehow playing a Bosnian illegal.
January Jones is perfectly cast as the emotionless wife, but something tells me she’s not really acting.
It was fun watching the two Eurotrash killers, Smith (Olivier Schneider) and Jones (Stipe Erceg). After all, this stereotype appears in nearly every action movie these days.
So much action takes place at Berlin’s Hotel Adlon Kempinski—prominently identified as such— that you’ve got to wonder whether they traded product placement for the location fees.