Frantic (1988)



Critic Consensus: A tense, on-point thriller in the vein of Polanski's earlier work.

Movie Info

Following the disastrous Pirates (1986), director Roman Polanski got back on creative track with this finely-wrought thriller that, while failing to impress at the box office, was nevertheless his most critically well-received film of the decade. Harrison Ford stars as Richard Walker, an American doctor who has come to Paris, where he's scheduled to deliver a paper to a medical conference. Richard has brought along his wife Sondra (Betty Buckley), because Paris was the site of their honeymoon 20 … More

Rating: R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By: ,
Written By: Roman Pola?ski, Gérard Brach, Roman Polanski
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 1, 2004
Warner Home Video


as Dr. Richard Walker

as Sondra Walker

as Williams

as The Kidnapper

as Gaillard

as Hotel Manager

as Rastafarian

as Dede Martin

as Houseboat Band

as Taxi Driver

as Desk Clerk

as Hotel Detective

as Bellboy

as Restroom Attendant

as U.S. Embassy Clerk

as Cafe Owner

as Hall Porter

as Desk Cop

as Inspector

as Hall Porter

as U.S. Security Office...

as Marine Guard

as TWA Clerk

as Man in Leather

as Man in Tweed

as Houseboat Owner

as Bodyguard

as Dr. Metlaoui

as U.S. Embassy Clerk

as Dr. Richard Walker
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Frantic

All Critics (40) | Top Critics (6)

[Polanski's] usual surrealism is almost completely absent.

Full Review… | February 19, 2010
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A thriller without much surprise, suspense or excitement.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Top Critic

Funny and unsettling.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

[Polanski] has succeeded in picking up the clever, unnerving thread of his earlier career.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Vintage Polanski.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

...a solid, consistently entertaining piece of work that boasts a typically stellar performance from Harrison Ford.

Full Review… | July 24, 2011
Reel Film Reviews

Audience Reviews for Frantic


Frantic, unfortunately doesn't present the great surrealist style of Polanski, but show a creative and tense plot with surprising moments. Fresh.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

I was expecting an average thriller, but ended up with a bit less here. (Never contented, am I?) Not bad to kill time, though. The actors were fine, but their characters were hardly so. So, unless you're a die-hard Polanski/Ford fan and/or are running out of options, this isn't something to anxiously look forward to.

familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

A doctor's wife disappears in Paris, and using only the clues in a misplaced suitcase and the help of a mysterious woman, he must find her before she is killed or he is arrested.
This is a classic noir film directed by one of the genre's masters, Roman Polanski. The young Harrison Ford shows his acting chops in the film's dramatic scenes, and the final sequence is shot remarkably well with angles and camera movement that are reminiscent of classic noirs. I saw a couple homages to Touch of Evil during this climax. I also thought the relationship between Walker and Michelle, played by Emmanuelle Seigner, was well-developed. It's obvious that she captures both Walker's attraction and repulsion. He is simultaneously drawn to her as he reviles her lifestyle and the threat she poses to his marriage.
However, the film moves quite slowly throughout. It's not as bad as The American, but it certainly lacks sequences of action, surprise, or intrigue until act three. Even then, the film's action sequences are relatively predictable.
I also found it cliche that the kidnappers are identified as Arabs, and their ethnicity seems to be the only motive for their actions. Even in 1988 Arabs are the go-to terrorists.
Finally, Walker first clue is a pack of matches in the suitcase, and I found it ham-handedly coincidental that this minor clue leads him on the right track. I recently re-watched A Very Long Engagement, and though these two films are remarkably different in many substantive ways, I liked how the mystery in Jeunet's film had so many dead-ends, which gave the film a far more realistic feel than thrillers like Frantic.
Overall, Polanski's film is good, but I recommend it with a few reservations.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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