As it turned out, this film was one of those classic "catch me if you can" scenarios showcasing Bucharest, Romania just as much as the main guy Shia LaBeouf. Plus, there is a surprising twist at the end…
Charlie Countryman (Shia LaBeouf), an American who has just lost his mother, has a conversation with her ghost in which she tells him to go to Romania's capital Bucharest for an adventure. While on the plane, he sits next to Romanian Victor, who dies of supposedly natural causes during the flight.
After landing, Charlie meets Victor's daughter Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood) and pretty soon falls head over heels in love with her. This, however, makes him the main enemy of Gabi's fearsome criminal (ex) husband Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen) and his "buddy" Darko (Til Schweiger).
From the beginning I had the feeling that Charlie was set up by all these people. A totally innocent and naïve American seemed just what Gabi and her mafia-style "friends" were waiting for. But is this is really the case? Well, I let you find out for yourself.
While Charlie tries to escape from his girlfriend's evil gang, there is a lot of running going on… giving us a good glimpse of what life on the fast lane is like in Bucharest, Romania.
Before going into this film, the title irritated me a bit. How can anyone's death be "necessary"? At the same time it intrigued me. And after all, the film was actually a lot less bloody as the trailer suggested.
When Charlie checks into a Bucharest hostel, he meets his two British room buddies Carl (Rupert Grint) and Luke (James Buckley). Carl, an aspiring porn star with the stage name Boris Pecker (you get the hint?), and Luke provide the appropriate amount of typical British humour. Actually, for a thriller I laughed a lot more than I expected.
I couldn't quite buy German actor Til Schweiger as the super-evil villain Darko. In Germany, he is quite well-known for a series of family-friendly comedies and I can't help but think of the cute conversation he has with his youngest daughter in his most successful German comedy. Internationally, I guess he is best known for Inglourious Basterds though, so yeah… it kind of made sense to some degree.
I have never seen Mads Mikkelsen as a truly evil bad guy either. In the two films I know him from (A Royal Affair and The Hunt), he was always the victim and not the aggressor. I am a big fan of this Scandinavian bloke, so I think he can pretty much pull off anything.
As to Shia LaBeouf, the protagonist, I was positively surprised. Not only did he do a really good job as the hopelessly romantic and shockingly honest Charlie Countryman, I also noticed that Shia actually has a really nice smile. He should smile more often! Seriously!
My verdict: Overall, a weird, but wonderful fast-paced adventure with a great soundtrack and a cast!
**** 4 out of 5 stars
Were you as surprised as me when you watched this film? Or did you even make the journey to trace Charlie's steps in Bucharest? Let me me know in the comments below!