Resin Heroes

Movies that won’t change your life but are good anyway: Juggernaut (1974)



I saw the movie Juggernaut (1974) the other night on TCM. I’d heard that the movie was a good, but obscure title so when I saw it was going to be on I had to check it out. Juggernaut is a fine film, never destined to win any awards but a good film none-the-less.

Here, a terrorist named “Juggernaut” has planted a series of bombs aboard a luxury cruise liner and is demanding £500,000 in cash otherwise he’ll detonate the bombs, sink the ship and kill the passengers. Bomb squad leader Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Fallon (Richard Harris) and team are sent to the ship in order to defuse the bombs and it’s up to Supt. John McLeod (Anthony Hopkins) back on land to track down who planted the bombs in the first place.

Juggernaut reminded me a lot of the movie The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, another one from 1974, in that events on screen play out in a reasonably realistic manner. When some of the bombs go off, they do so jarringly, unexpectedly and suddenly. And I got the feeling that while Fallon wanted to defuse the bombs and save the ship, his main goal was the BEAT Juggernaut and win the “game.”

One thing I found interesting was that a weird sort of gallows humor permeates the entire film. Fallon and team constantly joke about death around the bombs. At one point Fallon says, “Haven’t I told you about death? It’s nature’s way of saying you’re in the wrong job.” At another point the team are trying to defuse the bombs the passengers go about having a party a few decks above. When one of the crew remarks that the passengers must not know what’s going on, the captain of the ship replies that they do.

Juggernaut is also an interestingly edited film. Scenes play out in vignettes and we see happenings from the bridge of the ship to the investigation on land to the goings on with passengers and crew in the engine room etc. It’s a nice way to convey a lot of information to the audience and rely on them on keeping the story straight.

What’s funny is that the plot of Juggernaut closely matches that of both Speed (1994) and Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997), but obviously predates both by many years. And while the first Speed is a fun film, I think Juggernaut is better.

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