When Lola's boyfriend leaves 100,000 deutschmarks of his drug running boss's money on the subway, Lola has twenty minutes to replace the money and get it to her lover before he is Krispy Kremed.
Foreign-language action pictures are all too rare, but Run Lola Run, with its portmanteau structure, frenetic pace and searing techno soundtrack, proves that the genre isn't just confined to Hollywood.
What's more, this stylish, hugely likeable bit of adrenaline-pumped Euro-nonsense should shatter the illusions of those convinced that all subtitled fare is musty, wordy and dull.
Scarlet-haired Berlin punk Lola (Potente) is spurred into athletic action when her petty gangster boyfriend Manni (Bliebtreu) calls her in desperation at 11.40am; he's just left the spoils of his latest drug deal (100,000 Deutschmarks) on the subway, and is liable to wind up as sandwich filling when his somewhat anti-social boss turns up at noon to claim the loot. Lola has just 20 minutes to replace the cash and race across town to rescue her soon-to-be-dead lover. And if she doesn't, he'll rob the nearby convenience store, an idea likely to land the pair in even bigger trouble.
Working with a pared-down script that focuses on non-stop action, Twyker's movie tells the same story three different ways, giving a tricksy spin to what is essentially identical footage of our heroine pounding the pavement, and creating characters it's easy to care about. Even though they say little and reveal even less about themselves, you'll be willing them to succeed by the time the story enters its third incarnation.
Meanwhile, the gloomy, imposing Berlin backdrops are livened up enormously by animated sequences, flashy editing and some hugely effective gimmickry (the characters Lola encounters on her marathon meet different fates in every version of the tale, all of which are played out in snapshot form).
Combining the best elements of a mainstream blockbuster with low-budget European sensibilities, Twyker has created breathlessly exhilarating cinema that will satisfy multiplex-goers as well as arthouse lovers - in other words, exactly the sort of movie that Britain ought to be making.
An exhilarating film with plenty of action and sympathetic characters. This has something for the foreign film aficionados and blockbuster lovers alike.