Starring Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw
Directed by Joseph Sargent
Rated R: Language, Violence
A New York City Subway train is hijacked by four armed gunman who have taken hostages for a one million dollar ransom, now its up to traffic controller Zachary Garber (Walter Matthau) to negotiate for the lives of the hostages.
Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw are excellent in their respective roles. Matthau’s lack of chiseled A-Star looks with his round nose and tired eyes makes him completely believable as a working class schlub, but there is more to it than that in the performance. The camera holds back so that none of the main characters swamp any of the shots or the story. Frequently there are cuts between the train, the control station, the mayor’s mansion, and various police officers and such to remind us of the scale of the story and all the parts involved in it. A lesser movie might have turned Gerber into the big hero with a big showdown with the bad guy in the end but the large cast fits perfectly with the New York setting and the big city’s gleeful cynicism it employs serves as perfect levity. A big story with lots of parts to play and each one performs like clockwork. Suspense is key, each action propels the next until the thrilling conclusion
5 out of 5. Flawless.