VERDICT: "High-Quality Stuff" - [Positive Reaction] This is a rating to a movie I view as very entertaining and well made, and definitely worth paying the full price at a theatre to see or own on DVD. It is not perfect, but it is definitely excellent. (Films that are rated 3.5 or 4 stars)
Filled with genuine suspense & truly keeps you guessing. Harrison Ford was terrific as the lead & truly was such a capable actor.
Filled with terrific side characters that populate this strange universe. Can't explain to much without wrecking the twists but it's a strong thriller from master filmmaker Roman Polanski who is arguably larger than his films.
Harrison Ford headlines as Richard Walker, a San Francisco-based doctor in Paris to give a lecture at a medical conference. His wife Sondra (Betty Buckley) in tow, we get the sense that neither are much interested in the conference itself. As they spent their honeymoon in the City of Lights some twenty years earlier, more appealing to them is the opportunity to enjoy each other's company in the place their love became more concrete than ever.
But, as in the case of most (if all) thrillers, things go awry merely hours after they initially arrive. Sondra's suitcase is nowhere to be found; it seems there was a mix-up at the airport, and she ended up with the luggage of someone else. She laughs it off, playfully accusing her husband of attempting to give her an excuse to shop for expensive French clothes. But moments later, while Richard washes off the long journey in the shower, Sondra all but vanishes into thin air. Something tells us the mix-up and her disappearance correlate.
And so does Richard. Authorities, however, don't match in his concern. While they allow him to go through the motions of filing a missing persons report, they're under the impression that Sondra must be off somewhere in France with a lover Richard didn't know anything about. But he knows his wife - their marriage is as strong as it's ever been - and such claims are hardly fitting. To his irritation, he's forced to leave the law behind and undergo an investigation of his own, where leads, somehow, are abundant. Richard gets even closer to solving the mystery when he meets Michelle (Emmanuelle Seigner), a young drug courier who has Sondra's bag. She wants her payment just as much as Richard wants his wife back.
So one could say that "Frantic" is one long whodunit with hints of the chase film, though its cockeyed assemblage makes it seem distant from its more mainstream peers. Polanski only has to do small things to achieve his lopsided effect, from the way Grace Jones's "I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango)" plays repetitively (not as non-diegetic sound, either) to Polanski's insistence that most of Richard's leads be odd figures themselves.
Inversions of normality in an otherwise predictable genre are what make "Frantic" the playfully suspenseful work that it is - if only its ending, reminiscent of the conclusion of "Chinatown" (1974), matched the overall mood of the piece. With everything so darkly humorous, fatalism isn't much suitable. Still, the film finds Polanski at his most skilled; though it's a minor work, "Frantic" reminds one of his mastery, the confidence he holds in his own idiosyncrasies.