Dienstag, 1. Juli 2014

Filmfest München: Wir waren Könige (The Kings Surrender)

I really wanted to love "Wir waren Könige (The Kings Surrender)" because there are segments in this police thriller where absolutely everything is done right and it's a pulse-quickening beauty to behold. Which is a surprise, considering the movie starts off with a bang only in the literal sense, as the opening raid scene, while choreographed and shot competently enough, lacks that extra kick of speed and gravity to make it great. At this point doubts that the film will wind up being just another slightly more refined TV-crime-film- well made but limited in scope and flair- would be justified.

But then the multiple storylines begin to expand and intersect in a fantastic mid-section, where the characters take form, the suspense mounts, the stakes get higher, the plot thickens. With authorial patience German writer/director Philipp Leinemann devises a web of conspiracy, corruption, coincidences and conflicting interests, which he then executes in a number of superbly timed, precisely staged, evocatively shot and scored scenes that are hugely impressive for their narrative clarity and technical finesse. Some of them pack such promise in their grand, atmospheric strokes it sends chills down your spine. The actors are also uniformly good, if more as a tight, complementary ensemble than individual stand-outs.

So it's a pity that the movie can't seem to find an ending that's explosive, satisfying enough, one that could elevate itself once and for all from the familiar, moralistic, Tatort-friendly format. Because after reaching such a level of complexity and scale, you get the feeling the story finally comes back down to settle in a small, modest place.

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