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His mission: to find out whether the Pershing II missiles recently stationed by the Americans in the Federal Republic are really just there for deterrence (as the class enemy claims) or (as the Stasi suspects) to prepare the ground for World War III.
But the real enemy in the books is a different one – neither the Nazis, nor the post-war Germans, who interest him only in passing.
German actors are to be found in supporting roles here too: Sylvester Groth plays Gabi‘s uncle, a Nazi doctor, while Christian Berkel, who since “Downfall” seems to be firmly typecast in “decent Nazi” roles, dutifully executes the role of the rocket expert. Indeed, this is yet another attempt (think “Mission Impossible”) to resuscitate a hit television series from the 1960s.
But under Guy Ritchie’s direction, the whole affair predictably turns into a manically hip battle of sets and props, which – as a New Yorker reviewer noted – only once flickers into something approaching genuine emotion: in a Roman boutique, where the two agents argue passionately about whether Gabi (who takes the party line that Western consumerism is decadent) should wear a Paco Rabanne belt with a Patou dress.
Grumpy critics have decried its plot as overly construed.
Indeed, Rauchʼs desperate efforts to prevent his East German masters from a catastrophic overreaction culminates in his successfully crossing the Berlin Wall back to East Germany; and there are numerous other little irritants.