Frantic ★★★½

"He's American; he may be crazy." ~ Man in Leather

Twenty years before Liam Neeson starred in his first "Taken" film, another big screen action hero was chasing around the streets of Paris in search of a missing wife. Following up on his career-defining roles as Indiana Jones and Han Solo, Harrison Ford plays American surgeon Dr. Richard Walker, who is visiting the French capital to speak at a medical conference. When his wife Sondra (Betty Buckley) discovers that the airline mixed up her suitcase with another, a chain of events is set in motion that will lead to her abduction and Walker's frantic search for her kidnappers.

Joining the doctor in looking for Sondra is a leggy French mule named Michelle (Emmanuelle Seigner in her English debut); her suitcase was the one misdelivered. It contains something the kidnappers want badly enough to kill for, and they are undeterred by bumbling authorities investigating the case, including Jacques Ciron as the Le Grand Hotel manager, Yves Rénier as a local police inspector, and John Mahoney as a U.S. Embassy official. Walker and Michelle are pretty much on their own.

Writer-director Roman Polanski must have been channeling his inner Hitchcock when he made this journeyman's answer to the James Bond espionage craze of the 1980s. It's got just the right blend of mystery, suspense and humor. In fact, Ford's character is almost the antithesis of Jones or Solo -- clumsy, clueless and hardly an adventurer. He's really fun to watch. So it may not be high-brow, fast-paced or artsy, but I would certainly recommend this to anyone hungry for an entertaining afternoon popcorn thriller.

Part of my 5 Directors x 5 Unseen Films (5) challenge.

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