Lt. Rico Patrone: What's up, Z?
Lt. Garber: You won't believe it.
Lt. Rico Patrone: You know me, I'll believe anything.
Lt. Garber: A train has been hijacked.
Lt. Rico Patrone: I don't believe it.
This movie rocked. Its a crime thriller that benefits from the general menace provided by the lead villain met with the engaging efforts done by the police to stop him. It has moments that are effectively thrilling as well as others that are fun. A race against time aspect is met with witty or vulgar banter. Plus, one cannot see the ending coming and the ending is in fact awesome.
Wlater Mattau plays Lt. Garber, a transit officer in New York dealing with one tough day. Robert Shaw as Mr. Blue, is leading a gang of armed criminals with a very thought out plan involving a subway train hijacking. He is demanding one million dollars within an hour, and for every minute after he will kill one of his hostages. This man says what he means, and along with a trigger happy Mr. Gray, played by Hector Elizondo, he will get what he wants or else.
Lt. Garber: Inspector Daniels? She's moving, sir.
Inspector Daniels: Who's moving?
Lt. Garber: What's the matter with everybody? How many hijacked trains have we got around here, anyway?
Meanwhile, Lt. Garber and the men at his disposal, including Jerry Stiller, have to scatter to meet this man's demands within the time he is given. But even if the money is delivered, there is still that matter of what these hardened criminals will do after they get it. How will they escape and what will happen to the hostages?
The fact that this movie is rated R and set in New York goes a long way. The natural way in which all these characters swear is both hilarious and effective. It may sound silly, but this detail grounds the film all the more in reality. The various viewpoints of the characters are effective as well. The fact that some disagree with whether or not to pay the money is an issue that further benefits.
Performance wise, Robert Shaw is fucking awesome as Mr. Blue, the man in charge. He has no humor about the situation, he is cold and calculating. Matthau on the other end is quite good as well. His combination of humor with his attitude towards dealing with the hostage situation is very fun to watch.
I must also mention the score by David Shire. 70s crime film music equals awesome and this is no exception.
Quality flick all around.
Mr. Blue: It is 2:24, Lieutenant, you've got forty-nine minutes.
Lt. Garber: Be reasonable, will you? We're trying to cooperate with you but we can't do anything if you don't give us enough time to work with.
Mr. Blue: Forty-nine minutes.
Lt. Garber: We're dealing with City Hall, for God's sake, you know what a mess of red tape that is?
Mr. Blue: Forty-nine minutes.
Lt. Garber: Look, fella, we know how to tell time as well as you do, but we're not gonna get anywhere if all you do is repeat forty-nine minutes!
Mr. Blue: Forty-*eight* minutes.