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What To Do In Case Of Fire


What To Do In Case Of Fire

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Even if the time were somehow right for a madcap comedy about terrorists, What To Do In Case Of Fire would still look pretty lousy. The German film opens in 1987 with footage of six radical leftists, each introduced with a Mean Streets-style freeze frame, as they prepare a bomb for detonation in an abandoned building. It doesn't explode until 13 years later, when a real-estate agent and her yuppie client stumble across it. Miraculously, and conveniently, they sustain only minor injuries, but in the ensuing investigation, a batch of damning films of the group's preparations lands in the lap of a police captain straight out of Third Reich central casting. (Valuable lesson for would-be bombers: Put the camera down.) In order to save everyone's skin, the two still-committed leftist squatters—leader Til Schweiger and legless Martin Feifel—track down their old comrades for one last act of bomb-related sabotage. All have drifted from their past, but What To Do never digs into the whys and wherefores. They've simply divided from one stereotype into several: the yuppie lawyer, the soulless ad executive, and so on. The film doesn't seem to care too much about such matters, or much else, apart from attempts at easy laughs and easier pathos, usually involving pity for Feifel's disability. Though superficially sympathetic to its subjects' radical past, Fire never engages their politics, beyond demonstrating an ongoing rivalry with "the pigs." (The question of how Schweiger maintains his model-handsome looks and leather-pants stylishness while living in filth is similarly ignored.) Director Gregor Schnitzler tries to create a pumped-up Return Of The Secaucus 7 for the next generation, but the film has a better sense of the look than the lifestyle.