Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bang Boom Bang – Ein todsicheres Ding (Germany, 1999)

In his debut feature film, Peter Thorwarth managed to prove that Thomas Jahn's Knockin' On Heaven's Door (1997) wasn't some lucky fluke, but that Germany, the land supposedly lacking all humor, is also fully capable of producing some of the most blackly humorous, quickly paced postmodern crime films around. (Well, OK, it did so twice — the pickings have been pretty dry since then.)
Displaying a light touch that reveals both a deep knowledge of film and technique, with Bang Boom Bang – Ein todsicheres Ding Thorwarth made a film that continuously entertains and never bores, successfully combining numerous characters, narrative twists and story-threads into a satisfying whole. The seemingly loose script ties up tightly in the end, the good dialogue and clear characterization underscored by some excellent "type" casting, the visuals a constant treat of sight gags and surprises, not to mention some excellent directorial flourishes. Combine all that with good editing, fine cinematography and some excellent music, and you got one good fucking film.
Not that one would expect Bang Boom Bang to be any good if one doesn't make it past the first scene, in which the obnoxious jailbird Kalle (Ralf Richter) gives an aggravating tirade about wanting his dream car and girlfriend (in pumps) waiting outside of the jail when he gets released in two years. The guy is disgusting, and though the scene gets nervous laughs, one doesn't laugh with him or actually find him funny. Kalle is doing time for a bank robbery, the deal with his partner Keek (Oliver Korittke) being that Kralle does the time and then, once released, gets 90% of the take remaining. Unknown to Kralle, Keek, a video junkie whose brains have gone to mush from too much hash and too many crappy videos, has lost the money on horse races and is in no way capable of either buying the car Kralle has arranged or ever even paying him what he is owed. When Keek unwittingly gives Kralle a hardcore porno video featuring Kralle's slut girlfriend as the bonking babe, Kralle blows a fuse and escapes, forcing Keek to take more desperate measures to get the cash needed.
Teaming up with his friend Andy (Markus Knüfken), a hot-headed local soccer player and mechanic, they get involved with the local loser Schlucke (Martin Semmelrogge) in a plan they think is to rob the crooked businessman Werner Kampmann (Diether Krebs). Propelled by greed, desire, stupidity, bad luck, revenge and chance, people die, a thumb gets locked in a safe, porno shoots get disrupted and everything dawdles out of control, much to the viewer's delight.
Filmed in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany's central industry area commonly called the "Ruhrgebiet," Thorwarth makes good use of the area's overall grayness to underscore the bleak lives of his characters, all the men of which are too dense or brainless to realize the innate pointlessness and stupidity of their actions. (Don't be mistaken, though — this film is no "message film," and its last scene purposely takes the piss out of the little message Bang Boom Bang might have.)

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