Run Lola Run (1998)
The Pressure is Rising, The Adrenaline is Rushing, The Clock is Ticking
I read somewhere this was an interesting movie, what I hadn't read was that it was actually a foreign film. Got nothing against foreign films personally, so that wasn't going to deter me, but before I even started the movie I already expect some people are going to tune this one out - why? Because you either don't understand German, or English dubbing that doesn't always sync with the mouth movements of German words is gonna bug someone. That aside, you can tell by the title along that this movie is going to contain at least double the running of something like Running Man, but the question remains: will your soles burn from the speed, or will the plot leave your mind racing crazy?
The intro tells you something: your in for a wild one. You aren't really sure if this is going to be one of those pretentious flicks that tries to cram all sorts of artsy stuff down your eye-holes in an attempt to get across some over-complicated philosophy scholars like to argue about. I mean, we get this fancy little speech that sums itself up as essentially "it looks like a ball so kick it" which tells me that this is the "you got your thinking cap on?" warning. Surprisingly enough though, this is the last part that's going to be flat out bluntly confusing to (what I would hope) is the majority of watchers. After this little blob of scenes is out of the way, we get to a crazy animated credits scroll (also something that doesn't get revisited much), and then are thrust into the main plot point of our movie. Lola's boyfriend Manny calls up and explains he is in quite a predicament, because Lola didn't show up on time for the first time in her life.
Because of this, Manny got on a subway, where a bum decided to trip in front of him. When he helps the bum out, he see's cops and just panics due to instinctive reflexes and gets off the train, realizing too late that he left his sack of money he was supposed to deliver to a rather dangerous man on the train - and by the time he gets to the next station, both the bum and his sack of money is gone. With just twenty minutes on the clock, it's up to Lola to save the day. Bookmark this scene, right after we get Lola's weird stuff-shattering scream, as we'll be back here later. Lola decides to run to the bank her father works at - crossing the paths of many people along the way, each of which we are treated to a series of snapshots that elaborate a bit about either their past or their future. As she nears the bank we see a bit of current-time video stuff going on with her father and a co-worker who he appears to be having an affair with. She asks for the money needed to save Manny (Ten grand), things don't quite go well and her father not only kicks her out but also tells her that he isn't even her real father. Trying not to lose any more time. she hurries (with more snap-shots and the likes) the meet up with Manny. She gets there too late however, and Manny is already in the middle of his B-plan, which is to rob a grocery store. When they go to make their escape though, they get surrounded by cops and one accidentally shoots Lola.
This is where things get a bit odd, and apparently (as far as any of my mental capacities cared go) the power of love comes into play. We get a scene of the two laying in bed, having themselves a bit of a theoretical conversation about why Manny loves her, a bit waxing philosophical about feelings really. After realizing she doesn't want to leave him, we find that we have reset back to the phone call ending (remember that bookmark I told you about?) and retry the events that just happened - although things are changed a bit. Of most important note is that her father's mistress actually is having the kid of another man, and to get the money Lola actually holds up the bank. Things actually seem to be working out better than the last time, until she arrives and Manny ends up getting run over by (ironically) an ambulance. We then go inside Manny's head and see another take on the philosophical scene, this time with Manny asking Lola about what she would do without him. Similarly enough, this time he decides he doesn't want to let it go, and we once again reset to our bookmarked part. Will the next time be any better than the others?
The plot is straight forward at it's most simple part, although the artsy elements do bring a sense of unnecessary confusion at times. The aforementioned artsy cartoon bits are only used to show Lola running down her apartment stairs for example. The snap shots of the background characters also comes out of nowhere with no warning, and I'm pretty sure only are there to help serve the purpose of making people see it as an experiment of timelines and how choices can change things. That being said, it does have that distilled butterfly effect element to it, in which it seems an event from one run seems to somehow subconsciously carry over in Lola and yet the actual timeline in each run is actually different in how it plays out (even if subtly and not in a movie-effecting manner). Of course, you have those two power-of-love scenes stuck in between the runs, and all in all I could see if someone had a bit of a hard time following the movie when it seems almost scatter-brained about it's presentation of something that otherwise would be relatively straight forward. It's less like Groundhog's Day and much more like a video game with extra lives.
This is also a case of a rating feeling out of place - this R is ideally for about three acts of violence (with blood), a handful of cussing, and a couple of adult-related topics (like adultery). I mean, sure, some of that stuff is some serious topics that aren't necessarily suited for kids, but I've seen PG13 flicks that would strike me as more traumatizing to a young mind. Maybe I just missed something. Truth be told however, despite that (and the terrible lip syncs) the actors all do a pretty good job in their rolls. Audio comes across fine, and the music where it exists is pretty well upbeat and adrenaline pumping.
Outfits are nothing fancy. Sets are nothing really fancy either. Effects work is kind of limited - a gun shot, a car wreck, those handful of animated scenes - but not necessarily poorly handled. The actual quality of the movie itself, oddly enough, is a bit more dated feeling than the age of the movie would imply. There are moments where it looks as though it's shot on a home-video VCR-style camera, a couple moments where you can see a blue line along the entire side of the frame - and I honestly have no idea if it's meant to be that way or not. Generally speaking, it wouldn't be so noticeable if not for the transition between better quality and the lower quality, which makes me want to believe it's intentional, but I just can't tell. Also never explained is the cartoon-grade high pitched scream Lola does that just shatters things for no apparent reason. I don't know what's up with it, that's really all I can say about it.
If you like those time travel-esque flicks that deal with multiple chances and the likes, this one might be up your alley. It's not for everyone, but by all means it's not a bad movie or anything. The concept is about as interesting as any temporal themed flick, and the title doesn't lie at all about the amount of running in the film, but it's also nothing that stands out a great deal to me either. It's paced decent, it's shot relatively decent, and overall I feel it as pretty much just decent. For some of us, a decent movie is quite good enough to get some enjoyment out of.