I’d imagine that the all-star cast ensemble that fills Richard Lester’s terrorist thriller Juggernaut was a heavy draw for the film when it was released, and the movie has some good suspense as well, but the movie spends a lot of time focusing in on details rather than the big picture, which I feel sort of dilutes what might have been a real crackerjack thriller.
A terrorist plants a bunch of bombs on a cruise line, causing chaos.
The HMS Britannic sets sail with hundreds of tourists expecting a leisure cruise, but on its first day out a terrorist calling himself “Juggernaut” phones into the ship’s designer (Ian Holm), informing him that the cruise liner is packed with bombs all over the ship, enough to kill everyone aboard and destroying the ship as well. The clock is ticking, and there’s a large ransom to pay, but a crack team of bomb experts are parachuted into the ship to diffuse the explosives before they go off … assuming that they can locate and disarm them in time. Bomb squad agent Fallon (Richard Harris) locates all the bombs, but soon realizes that the bombs are so complicated and tricked out that he might actually know the terrorist from his past. On the flipside, there’s a detective (played by Anthony Hopkins) whose wife and kids are on the ship, whose job it is to find Juggernaut, but there are several suspects and there’s also a plan in place to trap him when the ransom is paid. With the captain of the ship (played by Omar Sharif) and a slew of passengers aboard who have been informed of their terrible predicament, morale sinks as the minutes tick away …
I’d imagine that the all-star cast ensemble that fills Richard Lester’s terrorist thriller Juggernaut was a heavy draw for the film when it was released, and the movie has some good suspense as well, but the movie spends a lot of time focusing in on details rather than the big picture, which I feel sort of dilutes what might have been a real crackerjack thriller. When the cops eventually catch Juggernaut, I didn’t feel it was earned or built up enough, and while Anthony Hopkins was going for something with his performance in the film, I’m not sure there was enough of a role for him to really deliver something nuanced or special. For a guy whose wife and kids might be imminently killed, he sort of lumbers around not saying or doing much. It’s weird. The film also features Shirley Knight, David Hemmings, Clifton James, and Roy Kinnear who gives the movie’s best and most interesting performance as the entertainment MC aboard the ship whose overenthusiasm and high energy in the midst of the crisis is a real treat to behold.
Kino Lorber has reissued Juggernaut on Blu-ray as a special edition with a nice high definition transfer, plus an audio commentary by two film historians, the trailer, and the TV spot. There’s also a slipcover included.