Top positive review
on February 3, 2004
Frantic is one of my all-time favorite sleeper Ford films. Frantic received anywhere from mixed reviews to a luke warm reception when it premiered back in 1987. Audiences and critics could not understand if it was meant to be a high octane action thriller or a throwback to the era of psychological drama a la Hitchcock with Parisian settings. It is actually a little of both but leaning more towards a slowly culminating subtle action feel. There are no huge pyro-technic explosions or violent gore. Just a few car chase scenes and ricocheting bullets...In the end, in my book, Frantic to me is more of a cult status Polanski/Ford Flick classic. From the opening movie credits rolling in the tradition of the way ending credits normally close a film, Frantic contained that eccentric yet highly artistic Roman Polanski touch. It also introduced Polanski's beautiful young French model/actress wife Emmanuelle Seigner (European Brooke Shields or Mariel Hemingway). While she provided much candy for the eye, her acting ability saw some room for improvement. Polanski's keen eye for directing is awesome;Particularly the way he does the rooftop scene with Ford's character and the French girl Michelle. If you were afraid of heights or suffer from vertigo, then this is your nightmare scene. Also, the scene where Walker awakes to see the huge Statue of Liberty is brilliant (you will know what I mean if you see this) !
Frantic is the tale of a happy married couple having their 20th Anniversary celebrated in The City of Lights while also combining a medical convention Dr. Walker (Ford) must attend. All is disrupted by an accidental switching of identical suitcases. One case contains the clothing articles of his wife Sondra ( Broadway actress/singer and 70's Eight Is Enough step mom Betty Buckley) and the other, well, you will have to find out by watching the dvd, an item the bad guys want. In an attempt of desperation to retrieve this suitcase and its contents they kidnap Sondra and hold her in exchange for the case with it's valuable contents. Dr. Walker must now rescue his wife with the aid of a street smart French gal named Michelle (Emmanuelle Seigner) who is also entangled in this dangerous web of intrigue and may possess the key to the entire mystery...
What will mystify some viewers is something that a critic pointed out years ago. Here it is...If the bad guys knew what the suitcase looked like containing the merchandise, then why didn't they just run into the hotel room and snatch it? Instead, they left the suitcase behind but take the wife...Thought to ponder. But, then, again, such a quick and witty resolve on the part of the bad guys would have resulted in an extremely short film !
Moody and somewhat atmospheric is the way to describe Frantic. Moody and atmospheric also applies to the soundtrack performed by Ennio Morricone. A soundtrack which harkens back to the 70's detective t.v. series like Streets of San Francisco or Mannix but with a contemporary feel (use of orchestration with horns and electric guitar or bass). Throughout the film a song by Grace Jones entitled "I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango)" is ominously used to add to Frantic's feel.Frantic also possesses an 80's dated quality in music and fashion in quite a few club scenes but with that Parisian or European panache (in a good 80's way, er, ah, if that is at all possible). So, if you are looking for a Ford film with a bit of cinematic scenic style, a somber yet catchy soundtrack, Parisian setting, a hankering for reliving the 80's then Frantic is the ticket !