"12 Meter ohne Kopf" or "12 Paces without a Head" is a German 100-minute movie from 2009, so 3 more years and it will have its 10th anniversary. It is one of the more known works by German filmmaker Sven Taddicken, who is not only the director here, but also one of the writers and so he is probably the one who is most to blame for how weak this turned out overall. When this one came out, pirate films were even much more hyped than right now because of the American PotC-franchise starring Johnny Depp. It's perfectly fine to try to jump on the bandwagon and the tone and story here are completely different, which is nice too, but in terms of quality, it stays underwhelming from start to finish. The cast is fine I guess, there's a handful names and faces in here that German film fans will immediately recognize.
This is apparently the story of Klaus Störtebeker and I write apparently because the focus switches more and more to Gödeke Michels. What is the reason for this? Probably that Michels is played by Schweighöfer a crowd magnet in German cinema and Ronald Zehrfeld, who plays Störtebeker, is a much much better actor than Schweighöfer, but does not get the material or screen time to really shine in here. It is, as usual, pretty embarrassing, to see Schweighöfer try to make an impact with the great dramatic material he is given, but he comes oh so short all the time because he has simply no range to make anything work other than forgettably stupid romantic comedies.
In his defense, you have to say that his character also suffers from bad writing. Inserting a message that one month has passed is simply not enough to make the audience believe or convince them that a main character has completely changed in terms of behavior and attitude from being an unlikable character to being somebody who would give his own life for somebody else he just fought with all his force in a previous scene. The character writing is generally very bland here. This also refers to Zehrfeld and Striesow, but also to Pallaske whose character added basically nothing to the story and it was not the actress' fault. They just wanted a female character in here and completely missed the point in how to include her.
Another problem with this movie has to do with the fact that it has nothing to do really with the real Michels and Störtebeker (or with who they were and what happened to them) and using these names seems to me like a desperate attempt to lure audiences to theaters in order to make the film look authentic and relevant. This film lacks in a whole lot of areas and it is a perfect example when people are very ambitious in making a film, but just don't have the talent to make their ambition work, especially Taddicken and Schweighöfer. That's why I have to give it a thumbs-down and I don't think this is nowhere near the best German film has to offer this millennium.
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