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Frantic (1988)

3.9 out of 5 stars 138 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Frantic (DVD)

Harrison Ford stars as an American doctor who is pulled into a Byzantine underworld of crime and corruption when his wife is kidnapped in Paris in this tightly wound thriller--Frantic. With shattering suddenness, an ordinary man is thrust into an extraordinary adventure. When Richard Walker (Ford) steps out of his hotel room shower, he realizes that his wife (Betty Buckley) is gone--and that the nearby suitcase is not hers. Now, a stranger in a strange land, Walker must perform acts of heroism of which he never suspected himself capable--and forms a wary alliance with a beautiful young Parisienne (Emmanuelle Seigner) who holds the key to the mystery of his wife's disappearance.

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Living in exile in Paris after eluding a controversial charge of statutory rape in America, director Roman Polanski seemed professionally adrift during the 1980s, making only one film (the ill-fated Pirates) between 1979 and 1988. Then Polanski found inspiration--and a major star in Harrison Ford--to make Frantic, a thriller that played directly into Polanski's gift for creating an atmosphere of mystery, dread, escalating suspense, and uncertain fate. Set in Paris (Polanski couldn't go to Hollywood, so Hollywood came to him), the story begins when an American heart surgeon (Ford) arrives in the City of Lights with his wife (Betty Buckley) for a medical convention. They check into a posh hotel, and in a brilliantly directed scene, Ford takes a shower and emerges to find that his wife has vanished. This mysterious disappearance--and a confusion between two identical pieces of luggage--leads Ford into the Paris underground and a plot that grows increasingly dangerous as he approaches the truth of his wife's disappearance. The plot gets too complicated, and the pace drops off in the cluttered second half, but in Polanski's capable hands the film is blessed with moments of heightened suspense in the tradition of classic thrillers. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Harrison Ford, Betty Buckley, John Mahoney, Jimmy Ray Weeks, Yorgo Voyagis
  • Directors: Roman Polanski
  • Writers: Roman Polanski, Gerard Brach
  • Producers: Thom Mount, Tim Hampton
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 13, 2006
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305133476
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,602 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Frantic (1988)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The movie is really excellent, 4 stars anyway. The following comments pertain to the quality of the transfer to DVD. In that respect, let's make sure we're on the same page. On the spine of the case of this DVD is the WB logo, the designation "DVD Video", and the number 11787. In the back description on the case, it is designated: "STANDARD VERSION: This film has been modified from is (sic) original version: It has been formatted to fit your screen." In other words, it's a pan-and-scan version, and indeed one that is so bad that critical information during the movie is lopped off the visible viewing area. The image quality is grainy and disgusting, like a transfer from some old VHS video tape that's been laying around on a dusty shelf ever since the movie was made. The sound quality stinks: One must turn up the volume to near maximum in order to hear the dialog, which even then is badly muffled at times. Whoever at Warner Brothers was responsible for this mess demonstrates their total contempt for the customer.
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By A Customer on February 14, 2001
Format: DVD
Like BLADE RUNNER before it, when FRANTIC came out in U.S theaters in 1988, it's box-office performance was rather dissappointing. The reason for this can be attributed to the fact that FRANTIC (like BLADE RUNNNER) was not cranked out by the Hollywood cookie cutter machine, and therefore not a movie for American masses. Delving a bit deeper into this, there are aspects of the film's feel, plot, performance and score that I'd like to touch on:
FEEL
Despite the fact that it's made by Warner Bros., FRANTIC has a distinctive European production feel to it. Yes, it's filmed in Paris,but the feel, pace and cinematography make one realize that Frantic is really a European film which has an American star at its helm. It's not often that big stars, such as Harrison Ford, step out of the Hollywood production scene to make a European-type feature. It's no surprise, then, that FRANTIC was hugely successfull in Europe.
PLOT
The film has the spirit of Hitchcock throughout it. Even its premise: Harrison Ford's(Dr. Richard Walker) wife mysteriously vanishes from his hotel upon arriving in Paris for a conference. It differes from other films with a similar plot (such as THE VANISHING and BREAKDOWN), in that the audience is just as at a loss as Walker is. We only know what he knows. We discover parts of the mystery as he methodically puts the peices together. This aspect is what really creates the film's gripping suspense and makes one relate and empathise with Dr. Walker's anguish. In the afore mentioned movies, there is a bi-linear plot where we see what is going on from the kidnapper's point of view, which make things all-too obvious.
PERFORMANCE
For those critics that say that Harrison Ford can't act, they obviously haven't seen this movie.
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Format: DVD
This isn't the greatest Harrison Ford or Roman Polanski movie. The solid performance by Ford, the film debut of Emmanuelle Seigner, and a fantastic score by Ennio Morricone elevate it a notch. Ford plays an American doctor, on a trip to Paris with his wife when she mysteriously disappears from their hotel room. The Paris police and the US Embassy are no help so he sets out to find her on his own. Emmanuelle Seigner (Polanski's very young wife) plays Michelle, a naive drug runner who happened to pick up the wrong luggage, his wifes, at the airport. They team up to solve the mystery. The cliches that show up in this movie are disappointing; The bumbling US Authorities, the Arab "businessmen". Polanski keeps it rolling along though. It isn't even close to being as good as "Chinatown" or any of the classis Hitchcock movies. The score is fantastic. And although Morricone is better know for the Sergio Leone film scores, this one should not be missed by any fans. He provides the perfect soundscape for the seedier side of the City Of Lights. The DVD capabilities are wasted. There are no added features and they didn't even bother releasing it in widescreen.
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Format: DVD
This is one of Harrison Ford's underappreciated gems, made in that brief period in the 1980's when he had a two movie fling with roles beyond his usual fare, the other being the fantastic "The Mosquito Coast." Sadly, both movies bombed, and Ford never pushed himself again.

Roman Polanski crafts a creepily realistic thriller. The first half is near flawless, as Ford investigates the mysterious disappearance of his wife. Things do start to unravel a bit as we find out just what happened to her, the mysterious becoming just mundane Hollywood fare. Still, Polanski's direction is so assured that I'm willing to forgive this fault. His own tragic personal loss clearly informs this dark, unceasingly serious film.

Although filmed in Paris, Polanski makes a fascniating choice. This is not the "City of Lights" we're used to. Instead, Polanski shows the city at its absolute worst, delighting in its ugliness. The film opens and closes with lengthy shots of a highway passing through dreary suburbs. Trash trucks are forever collecting garbage and obscuring the Eiffel Tower. We constantly see bathrooms, alleys, concrete parking structures, rooms lit by banks of fluorescent lights, rundown apartments, the list goes on. This is not to say the film is ugly, it's beautifully shot, but not to look like a series of postcard images, this is a working, living organism of a city.

There is an almost documentary feel to this film that will alienate many viewers. This is arthouse style filmmaking. There are no easy jokes and little snappy dialogue. Multiplex moviegoers, used to instant, constant gratification will be disappointed. But those who like a little more depth and intelligence to their thrillers will be mesmerized.

Sadly, the American DVD is a disaster.
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