Though local B.O. failed to measure up to the advance hype on German release last year, “Dangerous Dowry” is a solid thriller that makes a credible action figure out of actress Katja Riemann, more often seen in comic roles. Pic has little theatrical chance in mature Western markets, but genre fans will want to check it out. It’s Riemann’s movie, and she more than rises to the challenge.
Thesp plays Ella, a broke Berlin cabdriver who’s saved from muggers by a mysterious Russian, Aleksei (Hannes Jaenicke). Attracted by more than just the size of his wallet, Ella engineers another meeting, and eventually he offers her 100,000 marks for a green-card marriage. Aleksei is mixed up with some Russians, led by his brother Yevgeni (Heinz Hoenig), who plan to sell stolen nuclear material to Mid-Easterners.
The fun really starts when Aleksei steals the 2.5 million marks in handover money and is pursued by all parties, with Ella at his side. Slipping into action mode, she sets up an elaborate trap to double-cross her pursuers.
The mature Riemann makes a credible lead who’s both sexy and resourceful, flecking her perf with ironic touches and giving the formulaic plot an above-average flavor by sheer force of character. She bonds well onscreen — including a memorable sack scene — with Jaenicke’s smooth Russian, and the action scenes are OK by European standards. Young Bulgarian-born director Dennis Satin, whose background is in musicvideos and German TV, makes a credible feature bow. German title means “Only for Love.”