Sean called this movie Raising Hell for the first third of it or so, until we paused it and the Netflix screen helpfully cleared things up. Not that it helps to know the title, unless it helps you avoid it. And frankly, Rising High might have been improved with a little more hell raising.
It’s about con men after all. Greedy men who are money hungry and obese with ambition. Viktor (David Kross) is allergic to the poverty he experienced in childhood and is willing to do nearly anything to avoid it. He’s got the motivation and the slick good looks, and he runs into a guy, Gerry (Frederick Lau), who’s got the dirty connections. Once they bring in Nicole (Janina Uhse), a banker who values cash over morals, they’ve got themselves a perfect set-up. They screw over people like it’s going out of business. You only rise that high by stepping over other people. Generally, you have to be both skeevy AND charming to do those things. Just ask Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s cornered the market on playing skeevy yet charming. Before the fall (and there’s ALWAYS a fall guys), there’s usually a certain amount of gleeful over-indulgence. Viktor and Gerry go through the motions of course: coke, hookers, parties. All of it empty and unsatisfying naturally. And it’s not even fun to watch. Mostly because the movie’s just going through the motions too, copy-catting better films in the genre, nothing new to contribute and nothing charismatic in the copy.
This is a German film that’s as joyless as it is pointless. I was so bored that I spent most of the movie playing Dragon Squirrel. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of it, it’s not the latest Angry Birds or Candy Crush or anything like that. Dragon is my shih-tzu Bronx’s favourite toy, though it’s really just the ripped open empty carcass of a stuffed blue and pink dragon at this point. Squirrel is the last of Fudgie’s (my Yorkie) trio of squeakie toy squirrels, also his favourite toy. The game involves me trying to steal their favourite toy, the dogs playing varying degrees of effective defense, and then some pretty epic tug of war once I have the toy in hand, me gripping the toy’s little ears, and the dogs clamping teeth down on their tails. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Usually I have a limit as to how much Dragon Squirrel I can play, and usually we make the squeaky Squirrel “disappear” about 10 minutes into any given film or series. This particular game of Dragon Squirrel lasted 94 minutes, uncoincidentally the exact run-time of Rising High. Because Rising High never rose above a whimper, never had even a tiny fragment of my attention despite the fact that Dragon Squirrel has now been played so many times the dragon no longer has a single tuft of stuffing left. The movie never gives you a reason to care for the characters, it never justifies its existence, and it never apologizes for being a weak copy of something better. I would have been more firmly engrossed by rewatching Catch Me If You Can for the 100th time, or even by rewatching Wolf Of Wall Street, which I don’t even like. So assuming you don’t have a rousing game of Dragon Squirrel to distract you, I’m going to go ahead and recommend you skip this one.