Set in 1999, a woman (Dommartin) has a car accident with some bank robbers, who befriend and enlist her help to take the money to a drop in Paris. On the way she runs into another fugitive from the law (Hurt).
With the backstory of an out-of-control Indian nuclear satellite on the verge of plummeting to Earth, Wanders' self-described "ultimate road movie" is one part science fiction, one-part love story and, yes, one-part road movie covering 15 cities in seven countries all rolled into a schizoid package saturated with self-conscious hip, and complete with a pulsating soundtrack penned specifically for Wenders by some of rock's finest, among them U2, REM and Peter Gabriel.
Dom martin, Wenders' real-life girl-friend, is bored wanderlust hipster Claire who, while driving some stolen loot to Paris stumbles onto mysterious hitch-hiker-on-the-run Trevor McGhee (Hurt). McPhee, however, turns out instead to be Sam Farber, a man with a US government bounty on his head, and in possession of a nifty camera invented by his father (Max Von Sydow) which enables blind people to see.
Trekking around the globe capturing images for his blind-since-childhood mother (Moreau, in a too-brief appearance), Farber soon has the instantly obsessed Claire in hot pursuit, along with a vagrant crew of tag-alongs like ex-boyfriend Eugene (Neill in a throwaway role), before the whole troupe heads down Australia way to Sydow's Outback hideaway and some fairly overwrought neophyte sci-fi hokum.
Unfortunately, Dommartin, although gorgeously decked out in Yamimoto duds, is not what one would call a charis¬matic screen presence, while even Hurt falls below his usually dependable standards, leaving an ample void where we should have obsessional love story and investing the entire proceedings with a grating shallowness. And while Wenders, perhaps fashioning himself as a sort of cinematic beat poet for the 90s, has crafted a movie that is undeniably ambitious and visually stunning, particularly the high-definition video technology used in the dream sequences.
This all comes across as little more than soundbite philosophy wrapped up in stylistic flourishes and fab locations, neither energetic enough for a trendy MTV audience, nor penetrating enough for the more intellectual of his fans. Indeed, it remains resolutely unclear as to which of the two he is here setting out to reach in the first place
Impressive attempt but just about a let down from Wenders but still showing him as a true visionary.