Blu-ray Review: Juggernaut

STUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Richard Lester | CAST: Richard Harris, Omar Sharif, David Hemmings, Anthony Hopkins, Shirley Knight, Ian Holm, Clifton James, Roy Kinnear
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 9/9/2014 | PRICE: Blu-ray $29.95; DVD $19.95
BONUSES: none
SPECS: PG | 110 min. | Action thriller | 1.85:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0/Dolby Digital 2.0 | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio | Video | Overall

 

“The Greatest Sea Adventure In History has Just Begun!” proclaims the ad campaign for the 1974 British action thriller Juggernaut, which also happens to be as dramatic and amusing as it is thrilling and action-filled.

Juggernaut movie scene

Richard Harris attempts to defuse a bomb in Juggernaut.

Inspired by a 1972 bomb threat on the QE2 (it turned out to be a hoax),  Juggernaut finds the SS Britannic cruise ship plagued by seven bombs hidden below deck by a madman who won’t assist in their defusing until his demand for a half-million pounds are met. That the ship is fighting gale-force winds and rough seas in the middle of the Atlantic with a thousand passengers on board doesn’t help matters.

The action alternates between the ship (captained by Doctor Zhivago‘s Omar Sharif) where a team of bomb squad commandos who have parachuted into the scene (Richard Harris and David Hemmings) and land-locked law enforcerer (Thor‘s Anthony Hopkins) and cruise ship execs (Chariots of Fire‘s Ian Holm) who are trying to track down the bad guys. It’s plays sort of like an oceanic version of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three in that the action. And like that same year’s Pelham, Juggernaut is not without a sense of humor, as demonstrated by the boozy-appearing Harris who’s endlessly cracking jokes as he nervously snips away at bomb wiring; Roy Kinnear (Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory) as the ship’s Social Director, who puts on a smile and leads impromptu sing-alongs as the passengers panic and the ship rocks to-and-fro by the in the storm; and Clifton James (Live and Let Die) as a vacationing American politician who knows there’s a lot more going on then crew is initially revealing.

Directed by Richard Lester (A Hard Day’s Night), who keeps the pace, tension and offhand humor strong, crisply edited by Anthony Gibbs, and filled with stars a’plenty (Shirley Knight, Freddie Jones and Julian Glover are also on hand), Juggernaut makes for a fun, diverting dive into Seventies “disaster” cinema.

 

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.