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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Juggernaut (1974)

A British transatlantic ocean liner carrying 1,200 passengers has seven bombs planted on it. When the bomber (who calls himself Juggernaut) makes a ransom demand for 500,000 pounds by dawn the next morning or the bombs will go off, a bomb disposal unit is air lifted to attempt to dismantle the bombs. This splendid high seas thriller is often inappropriately lumped together with the disaster films so popular in the 1970s but it's not really part of the genre. The director Richard Lester (THREE MUSKETEERS) has a lean hard nosed script that eschews sentimentality. For example, the wife (Caroline Mortimer) and children of a Scotland Yard detective (Anthony Hopkins) assigned to the case happen to be on board. The wife seems enervated and distracted and her children undisciplined, in particular her brat of a son (Adam Bridge) who causes the death of several innocent people. Lester makes no attempt to make the child cute or apologize for his spoiled behavior. The "romance" between the ship's Captain (Omar Sharif) and a married woman (Shirley Knight, who does wonders with an underwritten role) seems more cool than hot. Lester doesn't even save the best for last, indeed the film's highpoint comes about 35 minutes into the film. A stunning sequence with the bomb disposal unit parachuting into the the stormy sea that is beautifully shot (by Gerry Fisher) and edited. With Richard Harris, Ian Holm, David Hemmings, Roy Kinnear, Clifton James, Freddie Jones, Julian Glover and Cyril Cusack.

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