"We drop down from above. We float in on an air balloon. I rode in one for my birthday once. We land, grab the film, and take off."
The year is 1987. Anarchy is running wild in the streets of Germany. A group of rebellious youngsters, with their political idealism lead the charge against their country and government. It isn't until more than a decade later that one of their actions is felt, as a bomb they planted in an abandoned house explodes when a real estate agent tries to show her client the residence.
The police investigation of the bombing leads to the investigation of the once young radicals, now all grown up; some are businessmen, some have kids, and some are squatters, holed up in run down houses, away and sheltered away from modern Germany. After storming the former headquarters of their operations, the police confiscate a film they made that illustrates them making the bomb years ago that just went off today. This leads to them reuniting, in an attempt to try and get the film back (many of them have went on to successful careers that would go down the toilet if they were tied to the bombing). This attempt includes the idea of breaking into the police station and stealing the incriminating footage.
I never had patience for foreign films. For instance, I loved the American remake of "The Ring", but was bored out of my mind by the original Japanese movie. But for some reason, I enjoyed watching "What to do in Case of Fire." The plot is interesting, the acting is very good, and the setting (modern day Germany) is very effective. In addition, the characters are individual and unique. Tim (Til Schweiger) does a good job as the conflicted leader of the group, wondering whether his ideals for the last decade have been pointless or worthwhile.
I must also commend the cinematography in this film. The locales are incredible, as the film goes between modern day corporate Germany, and the run down sections. The composition of the shots is excellent, and I like the use of water throughout the film (whether it's raining outside, someone taking a shower, or the cascading waterfall we see in one of the radicals' office).
Columbia Tri-Star presents "What to do in Case of Fire" in Anamorphic Widescreen (yes, Anamorphic Widescreen!) 1.85:1. I was expecting a harsh transfer, but what I got was a pretty decent one. Sure, the picture seems unnaturally bright at times (flesh tones seem a little off), and there are instances of dirt on the print; but considering this is a foreign film that I've never heard of, I'm okay with these sporadic flaws. Besides, I have seen Columbia Tri-Star do worse jobs on more well known movies.
The audio is presented here in German Dolby 5.1 (not in English). It definitely sounds better than I expected, with all the German dialogue being clear and distinct. Explosions, motors revving, and sirens sound especially good. But, if you hate "reading your movies" (you can switch subtitles on and off), then the good audio presentation will be lost on you.
Static DVD menu offers the choices of "Play Movie", "Subtitles", "Scene Selections", and "Trailers."
Strange… there are three trailers on this DVD, yet not one of them is for this movie! Instead, we've got trailers for "xXx", "Snatch", and "Advertising Rules!"
I liked this movie. The story and characters are interesting, and it's something different (I swear, if I see another movie with Matthew Perry sticking his arm up a bull's ass, I'm going to scream). Unfortunately, the fact that it's in German-only, could dissuade people from giving this movie a chance. Still, I'm going to stick to my guns and "Recommend" it.