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Germany, France, United States · 2018
Rated PG-13 · 2h 5m
Director Michael Herbig
Starring Karoline Schuch, Friedrich Mücke, Alicia von Rittberg, David Kross
Genre Thriller, History, Drama

In 1979, two German families attempt a daredevil plan to flee West with a homemade hot air balloon, but it crashes just before the border. The remnants of their escape attempt are discovered and an investigation is promptly launched. They are forced to build a new escape balloon in a nerve-wracking race against time.

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What are critics saying?


Austin Chronicle by

In this entertainingly tense thriller, Hebrig finds extraordinary courage and understandable fear in both the Strelzyk and Wetzels.


Film Threat by Alex Saveliev

The movie is a heart-on-the-sleeve, old-fashioned action-adventure thriller. This Balloon may not exactly soar, but it’ll give you a satisfyingly stirring ride.


The Hollywood Reporter by Frank Scheck

Balloon simply doesn't feature the sort of cinematic thrills necessary to keep us fully invested in the travails of its central characters. It's not that the events are depicted in anything less than bombastic, hyperbolic fashion. It's more that the filmmaker lacks the directorial finesse to calibrate the suspense for maximum cinematic effect.


Los Angeles Times by Kenneth Turan

Filmmaker Herbig and his team prove to be especially adept at contriving situations where anything anyone does causes fear, anxiety, stress and worry, leaving everyone, very much including the audience, existing on the knife’s edge of unremitting tension.


Boston Globe by Mark Feeney

Balloon manages to combine slickness and sentimentality, predictability and implausibility. The fact that it’s based on a true story — the closing credits include photographs of the actual families — does not make up for the amassing of red herrings, close calls, and occasions for head-scratching.


TheWrap by Michael Nordine

It feels like an attempt to transpose the mix of thrills and prestige of a film like “Argo” onto a different true story, a paint-by-numbers approach that’s far less compelling than drawing outside the lines would have been.


The Guardian by Phil Hoad

How Herbig fails to capitalise on the sheer physical terror of their flight – the balloon’s basket is more a flimsily strung boxing ring – makes you wish someone like Werner Herzog had mounted this mad escapade for real.


Variety by Tomris Laffly

Balloon is decent entertainment to a degree, and that is mostly thanks to its handsome production values.

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