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Subway (1985)

Beneath the city, a whole different world exists

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 98 minutes

UK Certificate: 15


Christopher Lambert plays Fred, a stylish scoundrel and safecracker. He is hiding in the Paris Metro system in an attempt to evade the henchmen of a crooked businessman from which he has stolen some documents. Living here, he finds himself in the company of a diverse and bizarre collection of friends and acquaintances. In addition, he is blackmailing the wealthy Helena (Isabella Adjani), bored wife of his businessman victim, and with whom he develops a strange and compulsive relationship.

The subway is a brutal and violent place to live, and Fred has to survive on what he can extort or steal, yet Fred still takes the opportunity to pursue his relationship with Helena while finding time for safe blowing, robbing a train and evading the police. However everyone has dreams – even a lowlife like Fred, who would like to start a popular rock group made up of buskers from the Metro and to marry Helena.

As one would expect from Besson (The Fifth Element, Nikita, Leon), the film is visually stylish without being overly pretentious. This is part of Besson's earlier work, being only the third film he directed, so unsurprisingly it still shows some rough edges although these actually work very well with this script and locations. There are good performances all round from the cast in portraying the unusual characters, who are the main focus of the film. The settings, visuals and music deserve a mention, as they combine to fill in the atmosphere of this fluorescent-lit subterranean world. This is a film that viewers will either love or hate – it manages to produce characters that seem simultaneously deep and yet undeveloped, plus a story that is full of twisted sub-plots that still manages to wander rather aimlessly to its conclusion.

It's Got: Plenty of early Luc Besson style.

It Needs: A plot that shows more evidence that it knows where it is going.

DVD Extras The opportunity to include extras isn’t really put to good use, although that is not uncommon with a film of this age. Extras: Filmographies. DVD Extras Rating: 2/10


A nice-looking film that may not be to everyone’s taste, but a must-see for Besson fans.