Genre Pictures V

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Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 2, 2015

Juggernaut might not come immediately to mind when you think about 70s disaster movies, but these days it sure looks a lot better than most of the other alleged milestones of that genre, or that period. It’s missing what at the time seemed like gloss and flash and spectacle. In fact it kind of feels like a disaster movie made by Robert Altman—compounded plot, obscured views, stacked images and soundtracks. Oh wait—Richard Lester was doing all of that years before Altman rose to national and then international prominence. Here, contained in this one production, is the paradox of one of film’s more interesting careers—they’ll ask him to take over Superman II, for spectacle’s (and profit’s!) sake. And yet, if we look over the whole oeuvre, we’ll find the consistent craft/versatility/profundity of a pretty remarkable, estimable aesthetic. What might he have done or been in the old studio system?

Back to the film. The vessel at the drama’s centre may actually be the British Ship of State, or maybe the site of a pretty well articulated battle between corporate interest and corporate integrity, with politics and the spectre of (impending) Thatcherism lurking round the corner. Or, it’s a great big spectacle made up of sharply observed and well integrated components, characters and incidents all well balanced and leading to a conflict, crisis and conclusion with some heft and meaning to them. There’s even a bit of Howard Hawks, unfussily celebrating the hard work that hard men do, and the squint-eyed, crow’s-footed regard that naturally emerges out of the process. Not just the heroes are involved, but the cops too, and even, a little bit, the culprit. When you look closely, though this isn’t Hawksian in that regard, the women are empathetically included as well. This is probably something of a job of work for most of the people involved. But the work is very, very well done!