How do the French do it? When they toss off an entirely silly thriller with a breakneck pace, it still makes a modicum of sense, has a wide cast of characters that all retain individuality and focus, has chases that make physical sense, and all-round WORKS on pretty much every level. While still being silly, thrilling, and fun. When Americans try to do it, we end up with Crank.
Okay! So we open in the middle of a chase. The fellow being chased is about to be picked up by... his identical twin? Then: BAM! Bashed by a passing car! We now meet Samuel and his very pregnant wife at the doctor's, where they're looking at her ultrasound and the doctor is telling her to stay on her back for the last six weeks of her pregnancy. Samuel, who is a total low-key hunk, goes to work as a nurse at a hospital, where his new patient is the guy who had the accident earlier. He sees someone on the floor, trying to kill the patient, and chases him off. The next morning he is at home when an intruder knocks him unconscious. When he wakes, he gets a phone call: get the patient, who we have by now learned is a wanted criminal, out of the hospital within three hours, or he'll never see his wife again.
That's pretty much all I'm going to tell you, although that is only the first fifteen minutes. This movie successfully brings together a lot of the famous tropes of thrillers, such as the innocent man drawn accused of a crime, the average man who must become an action hero, the corrupt cops who make it impossible to go to the police, the criminal who becomes a hero of sorts, and more, but it fills them out with convincing (enough) characters that they become fresh again. It's also smart enough to keep the action going at such a pace that one doesn't have time to try pick it all apart, although now it's the next day and there's only one little element that doesn't ring entirely true.
What's most remarkable is the way this movie is able to fill out marginal characters in such a way that they allude to whole motivations and stories, without actually having to go into them. One example is Samuel's superior at work, who prickishly upbraids him for saving the patient's life without his explicit permission. Samuel gets a welcome opportunity to beat the shit out of this guy later, and when the victim later appears on TV giving his side of the story, we know exactly what kind of self-centered arrogant dick this guy is. Also on hand is a brusque female detective, and a young detective working under her. The younger detective has an admiration, and perhaps infatuation, with her superior, which in 100% comprehensible despite the limited strokes with which it is colored in, and she also has to undergo the whole Fugitive-esque transformation from obsession with bringing Samuel to justice to the slowly dawning realization that maybe he is innocent. The movie didn't need to go out of it's way to include the stories of these peripheral characters--and how does it find the time when it wants to maintain this furious pace--but it goes for it anyway and it results in a throwaway thriller that doesn't seem like the trifle it is, and gives one the tiniest bit of meat to chew on, so you walk out feeling like you've actually seen something and not just paid to be throttled by the neck for two hours.
That's about it. No big deal to miss this film, it is ultimately just a fun thriller, but if you do see it, you'll have a lot of fun. If someone in Hollywood hasn't already secured rights to an American remake then they have serious problems, because it's all right there in place for them--my friend and I joked about how you only have to run the script through Babelfish--and would constitute a virtual license to print money. Go get 'em, Hollywood!
Not essential, but well-made and super fun.