If you ever wanted to see a movie that lives up to its title, "Run Lola Run" is as direct and straight-forwarded as you could expect. It's about a girl named Lola who gets a random phone call from her boyfriend informing her that he has 20 minutes left to live. That is unless she could somehow get him 100,000 deutsche marks before an organized crime syndicate shows up expecting the money he accidentally lost on the subway. If she doesn't show up in 20 minutes with some kind of miracle solution, he will be forced to rob the supermarket just across the street from the phone booth he's in.
Lola is played Franka Potente, whom as I learn from the IMDB, had the part written specifically for her by writer/director Tom Tykwer. That must be nice as a filmmaker to be able to envision a character based on an actress you like and have her play it. And what a vision this was; a good-looking girl with flaming red-dyed hair bouncing (or 'running' if you wanna be PC) through town in a tight t-shirt that often reveals the tattoo on her well-defined stomach.
The movie is German with English subtitles, but don't think for a second that it's one of those foreign artsy films that the MTV generation wouldn't be interested in. In fact, this film looks like it was created by MTV. It's hyped, extremely quick (not good if you're a slow subtitles reader), and utilizes split-screens, cartoon cells, and nifty special effects; the opening title sequence begins with a crowded German street that turns into an aerial view of the people forming the movie's title: "Lola rennt." On top of it all, the film is charged with a high-energy techno track that doesn't stop until it's over. If you're one of the many who doesn't appreciate the value of techno music, "Run Lola Run" might not be a good experience for you.
When Lola gets the call from her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu),we see her lying around lazily in her apartment. When she's told that he's in deep trouble, she instinctively becomes the good girlfriend that she is knowing she only has 20 minutes and immediately drops the phone and, uh, well…runs.
If you're wondering how a 20-minute plot could be told in an 81-minute movie, I will tell you that the story is told three different times. After it plays out the first time, Lola concludes that it isn't how it should have happened and with a blink of an eye the story starts all over again; only to again repeat itself one more time. The path she takes each time is similar although minor things are different, and the film uses flash-forwards to show us how the butterfly effect drastically changes the future for some people even though only minor changes took place in the present. Whether it be a car crash, gunshot wound, exploding pane of glass or double-or-nothing game of roulette, each story has exciting sequences of events to keep us thrilled and ultimately entertained.
A few things bothered me about the film: Lola, despite all the running she does, never looks weak or fatigued. Unless she's a marathon runner -- which I don't buy because she would have opted for her moped had it not been stolen -- it should be difficult to talk long sentences after running four blocks, let alone breath easily.
But that's not my biggest complaint. I would have liked to see the lose ends tied a little better. We never get an explanation as to why or how the story is/gets told three different times. And what's up with Lola's unexplained ability to shatter glass with her high-pitched scream? And what did her father mean when he told her, "I'd have never fathered a girl like you. You're a cuckoo's egg."? And didn't the third scenario take a little longer than 20 minutes if the previous two were just on time?
Regardless, "Run Lola Run" is a fun little film. I would have liked a more original ending or one that didn't feel so in anti-climactic, but had it not been that way, we would have had to see Lola run for yet another 20 minutes. So we accept the conclusion and all the crazy things that take place. Relax Lola. Sit down and have a lemonade.