There’s something about those action movies set in Germany.
The fighting and chasing scenes in the new film “Collide” have to remind viewers of the first Jason Bourne movie. Or of “Run Lola Run.” In fact, “Collide” is sort of a natural off-spring of “Run Lola Run,” just like “Yesterday and Today” was of “Meet the Beatles.” Not that I’m wanting to wait around for “The White Lola” or “Sgt. Lola’s Constant Action Band.”
But “Collide” is really a lot of fun to watch, particularly once we get through the set-ups in the first reel, wherein Englishman Nicholas Hoult from the X-Men movies and Felicity Jones, who has been in the most recent “Star Wars” picture and in “A Monster Calls” just in the last couple of months, play young Americans.
They meet when they are both rumbling around Cologne, looking for some kind of self-preservation. The early section of the film also introduces Ben Kingsley and Anthony Hopkins as big time drug dealers in Germany. Hopkins plays Kahl, the well-connected importer of cocaine (inside hollowed out golf balls) and Kingsley Geran, the user of young women and hallucinogenics who runs distribution for his less openly eccentric partner.
Kingsley, in a huge fakefur coat, a gold jump-suit, and a pair of asymmetrical shades, chews the scenery. Hopkins, in a silk suit that is a shade of blue not found in nature, speaks calmly and reasonably until he suddenly glowers and threatens. They’re both terrific here.
So are the usually-bearded thugs who chase our hero, Casey (Hoult) through Cologne and the surrounding countryside, shooting and running and driving incredibly fast. And Hoult, Jones, and Dutchman Marwan Kenzari, who plays Casey’s co-conspirator, are also effective.
But the long, quick action scenes in the film are what will appeal to most movie- goers. Casey falls in love with Juliet (Jones) who must find $200,000 and go to the U.S. for a kidney transplant. This European-made and internationally- financed picture, directed by Englishman Eran Creevy, has no trouble acknowledging that those in need of complicated medical treatments need to come here to get them.
The only way Casey can raise that sort of money is by high-jacking a drug shipment of Kahl’s and turning it over to Geran The semi will be coming in from Holland on a particular night, and will be tracked by thugs using an in-cab video camera and a g.p.s.
A soccer game suggests a strategy for the self-protection of the thieves. They block the back road on which the truck is traveling, put the g.p.s. sensor on something else, and disguise Casey to look like the truck’s usual driver, whom they have killed in a shoot-out. That squirreliness about the g.p.s. is just the first of a series of plot problems the script doesn’t solve.
There are also a series of flashbacks and illusions that usually come to Casey when he is knocked unconscious, which he will be several times here, for example, when he is captured by Kahl’s thugs. They don’t get the shipment, though. They take him back to Kahl’s garage for torture. Oh, and by the way, they’ve got Juliet’s name and they are going after her to help insure that Casey tells who employs him and where the drugs are.
Here’s where the great action begins. Casey uses a broken water glass to go after a man roughing him up. Then our hero gets away in a car he will later discover has a couple of million euros in its door panels. And all the while he is calling Juliet and, when he can’t get her, Geran to ask him to send men to protect the young woman.
There are car chases through the city’s narrow streets and one on the autobahn which ends with three wrecked thug cars and an upside down Citroen station wagon from which Casey emerges with the money. There are foot pursuits, one in a shopping district. There are shoot-outs in a filling station and in a neighborhood bar. All of the action is well-filmed and suspenseful.
And all the action looks like the sort of fast-edited stuff we’ve seen in earlier movies set in Germany. Maybe the success of “Collide” has more than a little to do with the influence of setting.