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Wes tunn, wenn’s brennt? is a 2001 German movie about a West Berlin anarchist film group calling themselves “Group 36” who, in 1987 planted a homemade bomb in an abandoned building as a protest of police action and gentrification. However, due to a faulty timer, it doesn’t go off. As the years pass, the members of the Group 36 group part ways. Maik (Sebastian Blomberg) rehashes old ideas to become an advertising mogul. Nele (Nadja Uhl) is a single mother raising two young children in a tiny apartment. “Terror”, aka Robert, (Matthias Matschke) is a lawyer. Flo (Doris Schretzmayer) went full-on socialite. However, Tim (Til Schweiger) continues to carry the banner of radical unrest and slovenly living conditions along with Hotte (Martin Feifel) who lost his legs when a police water cannon rolled over him. It is alluded to that this incident is what caused to others to reevaluate their lives.

Twelve years later in 2000 when a real estate agent is showing off the building, the bomb is jostled and goes off. The police raid several places looking for evidence, including the tenement where Tim and Hotte have been squatting. Group 36’s films are confiscated along with film of them constructing the bomb. It’s up to Tim and Hotte to get everyone back together so that they can execute an Ocean’s Eleven style plan to break into the police barracks and steal back the evidence before they are identified and their lives ruined. They are opposed by Manowsky (Klaus Löwitsch), a cop from back in the day who is savvy to how anarchist groups worked, and Henkel (Devid Striesow), a younger fed who is more concerned with public relations than how effective the investigation is.

Beyond the hijinks, the core of this movie is about shaky trust amongst eroded loyalties and the clash of who you were compared to who you became. There is a lot of humor but some cutting moments about how your world can change in an instant when you aren’t ready to change along with it. The actors do a very good job of walking that balance. If you don’t mind subtitles, or can find a dubbed version…or Sie verstehen Deutsch, I highly recommend you give this movie a try.

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