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A flawed, though no less interesting experiment, in ultra-chic visual film-making.
ThreeSadTigers20 February 2008
At the time, a huge box-office hit in its native France - and as a result of the rising popularity of lead actors Christopher Lambert and Isabelle Adjani, something of a cult film in the UK - Subway (1985) was seen as a companion piece to Jean Jacques Beineix's earlier art-house classic, Diva (1981). Together, these two films can be seen as both the development and the continuation of the concerns and preoccupations of the then-newly dubbed "cinema du look" movement; a brief cinematic resurgence in French cinema that saw a younger generation of filmmakers looking back to the days of Godard, Truffaut and the Nouvelle Vague, and combining that sense of playful experimentation with elements of early 80's pop culture. It would be the film that finally introduced director Luc Besson to a wider commercial audience outside of the confines of the French art-house, and really - when looked at as part of the natural progression of his career - seems light years away from his first film, the wordless science fiction parable, Le Dernier Combat/The Last Battle (1983).

The characteristics of the cinema du look movement involved preoccupations with doomed love and alienated Parisian youth, applied to a plot that was both cool and iconic. This can be seen quite clearly in Subway, with its mixture of film noir conventions, pop music, subterranean youth-culture, action and broad attempts at humour. As others have previously noted, the film and the style that it employs are very much of their time; presenting a very 80's take on listless youth replete with a central character that looks like Sting, a synthesiser heavy soundtrack that manages to work-in two specially composted New Wave pop songs, some shocking fashion choices (though most of these are admittedly back in vogue) and that general unique, indescribable feeling that you often get from many French films from this era; in particular Buffet Froid (1981), One Deadly Summer (1983), The Moon in the Gutter (1983), First Name: Carmen (1983) Hail Mary (1985), Betty Blue (1986), Mauvais Sang (1986), Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources (1986) and Besson's own subsequent picture, Le Grand Bleu (1988). Subway doesn't necessarily have much in common with these particular films in terms of style or content, but it does have a similar languid feeling, bizarre eclecticism or eccentricity, and an atmosphere that feels very much true to the country and the time it was produced.

Overall, the film could be seen by many viewers as something worryingly lightweight; with the knockabout plot, colourful caricatures and continual bombardment of cinematic style perhaps being seen as a smokescreen to the thin plot and ironic characterisations. Like Le Dernier Combat, the ultimate problem with the film is that it can't quite decide whether or not it wants to be an action film or art film; with the combination of the two very different styles never quite gelling in perfect harmony. The opening car chase and initial descent into the bowels of this subterranean underworld hidden deep beneath the Parisian Metro system seem to suggests that the film will be all high-style and high-energy. Subsequent scenes however take a step back, giving us some cool, neo-noir like interaction between Lambert's laconic safe-cracker and Adjani's bored trophy wife, while the opposing forces of police and gangsters begin closing in around them. It is the kind of film that will definitely appeal to a certain kind of viewer, perhaps a more mature audience who are open minded to cult European art cinema, or perhaps maybe a dedicated audience interested in seeing how the director of such highly acclaimed action thrillers, such Nikita (1991) or Leon/The Professional (1994), started out.

After first seeing the film a few years ago I wrote "This has no heart. It is an experiment in cinematic formalism; obsessed with technicality but also consumed by the self-indulgence", which to some extent still stands, but I think, with repeated viewings, I've come to enjoy the film and see more of an allure and attraction to the characters of Fred and Héléna, who, quite clearly, struggle throughout to maintain face and make the right decisions in a world that neither of them truly understands. As a result, it might just be the kind of film that takes a few viewings to truly captivate the audience, especially after drawing us in with that aforementioned car chase (which nods to Claude Lelouch's iconic 1974 short film C'était un rendez-vous, whilst simultaneously prefiguring much of the Besson-produced film series, Taxi). Subway clearly isn't a masterpiece. Like his first film, Le Dernier Combat, and the recent Angel-A (2005), it shows Besson at his most inventive and experimental, sampling from a variety of different genres and producing something that is chic and stylish, without ever being truly captivating. It is however an interesting film and one that will no doubt appeal to fans of some of the films aforementioned, chiefly Diva, Buffet Froid and Mauvais Sang, as well as some of Besson's own lesser-known works.
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The fuzz, the handcuffs, the big house.
Karl Self17 December 2008
This is a pure exercise in style from the Luc Besson school of film making. A handsome gangster joins ranks with a school of dropouts who populate the Parisian subway system, hounded (but never phazed) by transportation police. The trouble is that head honcho Fred has fallen in love with the pretty but stroppy wife of one of his BCBG victims, and strife ensues below the streets of gay Paree.

Christopher Lambert is amazing as the stylish rebel gangster with a heart, Fred; Isabelle Adjani is pretty but, as always, deeply annoying -- she just exudes arrogance from the bottom of her dainty little heart. On the sidelines we see an impossibly young Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno and Jean-Pierre Bacri. I actually didn't recognise Reno, that's how young and unknown he is here.

If you have a deeper interest in cinema, this is a straight ten. It's amazing how Besson brings together great style, action, fun, pace, acting, dialogue and amazing characters. Unlike most directors who film in the province and try to make it look like Paris, Besson films in Paris but makes it look like Metropolis.

Unfortunately, there isn't much of a plot and zilch suspense. The film starts with a heated heart-to-heart between Fred and pretty Héléna, and since we are aware that their affair can't end but unhappily (albeit in an incredibly chic way), the suspense is exactly zero. So if you just want entertainment, you should better pick one of Besson's later movies.
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Really a lot of fun.
jojofla2 November 2002
It would be difficult to describe "Subway." Fortunately, I threw it into the DVD player knowing only who directed it, who starred in it, and that it was set in the Paris Metro. Maybe that was a plus for me, since I had no idea where the serpentine, if occasionally silly, plot was going. Suffice it to say that Christophe Lambert is chased into the Paris Metro, clutching some files that Isabelle Adjani is desperate to get her hands on. Of course, there's a romance with them, and a number of supporting characters--a roller skating purse snatcher, a smart cop, a dumb cop, a philosophical flower vendor, etc. Like many Luc Besson films, this one is over the top from the get-go, a crazy ride to nowhere, surreal, perhaps, but a bit obtuse at times with its eye-rolling symbolism. But it's fun, especially the excessive 80s look of the costumes and hairstyles, and Eric Serra's synth-and-bass-heavy soundtrack. Between Lambert and Adjani, I have to reserve all the praise for the lady, who deliciously scores with superb comic timing.
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What a Vision
Dockelektro2 November 2000
Besson... or pre-Besson... only the name fit right already... anyone who sees the movie can feel that its director was aiming for higher points... all the movie (if you catch it in its widescreen edition) is filmed geometrically and Besson uses all the length of the field to capture emotions, moments, visions in a film that refuses to take itself seriously, and only wants to amuse people... if you're looking for the typical Besson movie, watch this one: style-breathing, visionary, gripping and good-humored. Eric Serra's score reflects perfectly not only all an atmosphere but also the evolution of a partnership between director and composer. Check out the way the film starts and never stops. I never saw a movie which reflected so perfectly an intense, artificial atmosphere, and a so vivid characterization of the labyrinths society can create and the sub-creatures that can live inside it... I wish I was French and that I was born 10 years earlier, so that I could live more of this movie when it came out, as well as all the movies by Besson. Oh well, I'll stick to reality and marvel at this finely crafted movie, which I never get tired of. 9 out of 10!!!
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Very unusual, unspecific plot.
Tubular16 September 2000
This movie had a very unusual plot. It was basically unexplained, and at the end I was left wondering what I had just seen. It's not that the movie is hard to follow, rather that it doesn't give you much to follow. The main characters are never really defined outside of the specific events that occur in the movie, and vague references to events immediately before the beginning. Perhaps this was done on purpose, to avoid tying down the identities of those who were involved, in an effort to create the sympathetic characters most films aspire to. But it left me feeling like I'd missed something.

The film included shady denizens of the Paris Metro, but I'm not sure it focused on them as much as I expected. I expected the film to be about a normal main character running across an unbelievable array of weirdos in the subway, but the weirdos simply weren't that weird. I think I've actually see weirder people in the Paris Metro in real life. Instead, the weirdness in the movie comes from its lack of definition. An unidentified main character having stolen mysterious "papers" from the unknown rich husband of some random woman he happened to meet on the street.

I'm not sure what the movie was trying to get at, but I think it was leaning toward inspiring spontaneousness in all things and the consequences that brings. It really didn't ring any bells of resemblance for me with any of Besson's newer movies (Léon, Fifth Element), even though it had a score by Eric Serra and Jean Reno made an appearance. It also had the Eighties stamped into and slobbered all over it.

I can only recommend this movie to Besson fans trying to get a bigger picture of his work, 80's freaks, or anyone interested in trying to decipher cryptic movies.
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The subway blues.
lost-in-limbo19 April 2008
Truly I had no clue about what was going on in French director Luc Besson's offbeat, but terribly jerky story involving a sly safe cracker fleeing to the underground Paris Metro, after stealing some important documents off a millionaire that he would try to ransom off to. The bubblegum romantic-crime-drama premise is a washing machine filled with ideas, which are hanging off a very loose, but unpredictable plot. There's not much groundwork, but its impulsive nature, trivial gimmicks and interesting urban environment just gets you caught in the disjointed whirlwind of these strenuously adventurous situations, melancholy despair and eccentric characters. The delirious script never takes itself seriously (the humour is strong) and feels insignificant, but it sure had many awkward and lumpy exchanges. Some passages feel quite useless, and have poor continuity, but there's a certain charm that's hard to resist. The English dubbed version sounds quite terrible though.

It's like Besson has thrown caution to the wind, and is experimenting with his visually sharp prowess and stylish verve to get any sort of impact and details through. His placement, pacing and overall enthusiasm is impeccable. Some action sequences, mainly the opening car chase scene is very well delivered. He draws so much form very little and never seems bounded by logic. From the get-go he storms right in and never lets the smoking composition, slick atmosphere sway off course. Brimming in is an electrifying tacky electronic / rock soundtrack (by Eric Serra) and Carlo Varini's camera-work beautifully illustrates Besson's characteristically moody framings. The worthwhile cast do an admirable job. Christopher Lambert's broodingly dry and grasping performance has an immensely hypnotic ambiance to it. An alluring Isabelle Adjani draws up an infectiously collected, and classy performance. There's enjoyably fine kooky support from Jean-Hughes Anglade, Richard Bohringer, Jean-Pierre Barcri, Michel Galabru and the always delightful Besson regular Jean Reno.

Besson's "Subway" is resourcefully fun and colourful pulp, if a rather jaded experience.
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Besson's early and best
rainfall11 September 2003
When I first saw this movie I was magnetized by its unique atmosphere. Luc Besson created amazing out-of-genre movie. "Subway" inherits traditions of european films of the 70-ies and has something new and magnetic at the same time; and it is certainly Besson's most european film. Maybe it is the reason of it's not so high ratings by american critique. Strange, but Lambert's early and best roles in "Subway" and Marco Ferreri's "I love you" are crossed out by his later films. Talking about "Subway", this movie stands in a row of other films of the middle and the end of the 80-ies that were last before the sunset of european cinematograph and the wind of pan-american influence. And although many american movies are real masterpieces, two traditions can't be mixed. This is one of those cult films that create amazing style that can't be repeated. And although I find "Leon", "Nikita" and "5th element" really good movies, they all were commercial projects. And "Subway"... well, who saw it, they will understand. And maybe not. 10 out of 10.
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And don't watch the dubbed version!
carsten-glerup7 October 2005
This is a brilliant film worth watching several times. I have at least. But when I first found this film on VHS, I accidentally got the English dubbed version which more or less ruins the film as it is a French movie with particular emphasis on the French language and its articulation. When Gesberg, the head of police, refers to his two agents as "Batman" and "Robin", there is a hell of a lot difference between pronouncing it in English or French. Hear it for yourself and enjoy the movie. Very entertaining. The opening scene with the car chase really gets the movie going and it just keeps up the speed and at the same time remains ironic and tongue-in-cheek. A classic 80's movie!
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Going nowhere slowly
gelobter12 February 2003
There are a lot of people who rate this film so perhaps I just didn't understand it but I suspect that there wasn't much that needed understanding. I am a great fan of French films but this one seemed pretty pointless to me and there is little to say about it. It didn't satisfy either as an "entertaining" film (it has no real plot) or as a "thought-provoking" film (no character development, no analysis of human relations, etc). It also seemed to me to be very self-consciously American in style, if not a rather crude attempt to make a French film more palatable to the US market. There's nothing wrong with imitating the style of a country whose movies have conquered the world but I didn't think the director achieved it with any subtlety. Even the title of the film is a US English word. I guess it's just not my kind of film.
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Ambient, moody, stirring and very eighties production.
Stu-531 January 1999
Before Christopher Lambert's downfall into garish sci-fi flicks such as Highlander 2 & 3 and Fortress, he starred in some very good French films. 'Subway' is one of them.

The film opens in the midst of a car chase, and from there, Fred, the protagonist, finds himself sifting through the underground maze of the Paris Metro (or the subway).

During his escape from the authorities, he meets all sorts of colourful characters. Vagabonds and thieves who introduce him into the seedy underworld of the Paris Metro. The film keeps up a decent pace and the character study is of top notch.

A quality production. Eight out of ten.
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loved it!
ozbandit23 July 2003
I just purchased the Besson Movie set and watched Subway for the first time. What can I say.. I loved this movie, it's a totally immersive experience, so simple and yet so effective.. a skill so seldom seen in today's pathetic movie making "attempts".

It's so refreshing to see a director not afraid to use the film medium so efficiently to foretell a story.
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Not enough drama, action, suspense or dialog
Gordon-1112 October 2007
This film is about an upper class woman falling in love with a thief, who lives an alternative lief in the underground passages of the subway.

I was hoping this film would be as exciting or suspenseful as the "Leon", "The Fifth Element" or "Joan of Arc". I must say I was disappointed by this film. Maybe it was because Subway is an earlier film, and he had yet to develop his skill and style. I found Subway rather boring as there was not much going on. I was expecting more chases, drama, violence and psychological games.

Instead, the film is slow paced, dialog sparse and content sparse. We get treated a 90 seconds scene of cops walking down some stairs. Is this scene interesting or even necessary? I also am disappointed that there is little portrayal of what goes on in the subway passages. Just having some cat and mouse chases is not interesting enough.
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I'd rather have the sandwich!
Score_The_Film17 September 2001
I can't believe I just wasted over an hour and a half watching this movie. To make it even worse I'm spending another 3 minutes telling you this.

I'm a fan of Besson and have been since "Leon" and will continue to be. I was curious about this film since I read the reviews posted on this site.

This movie starts out with a bang and then goes flat for the next 90 minutes or so. I love 80s movies but this one just lies there like fresh roadkill. Let me put it into perspective.

It's as if John Hughes and John Carpenter had a kid and that kid wrote and directed this movie. I'm sure the creators were thinking, "Does Molly Ringwald speak fluent French? No? Well let's get Isabelle Adjiani and dress her up to look like Ringwald". They even cast a guy whose name is Jean-Hugues Anglade to be "The Roller". Jean-Hugues = John Hughes. Am I the only one who sees this? I'm not exaggerating these things. I was reminded of movies like The Warriors/Escape From New York/Sixteen Candles & Ferris Bueller's Day Off but I failed to see the humor in anything except seeing Jean Reno with hair and playing the drums. He must have practiced for weeks with those drumsticks.

At least HE learned to play the drums and picked up a paycheck at the end of this film. I was only left with option of rewinding the tape and returning it or destroying it so no one else would have to endure what I just did.
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Out dated
netzwelter15 January 2006
I have not seen the film in the 80s, so this comment is strictly from a year 2006 point of view: This film may have been considered good when it has been originally released way back in 1985. When I see it today it is just terribly out dated. Christopher Lambert with a ridiculous blonde hair cut, Adjani totally overdressed in 80's designer clothes and wearing the ugliest pimp earrings I have ever seen. You also see Roller Skates again and you wish you don't. The problem is that the film is only based on decoration, it totally lacks to transport some of the "eighies feeling". Just presenting dead style is not enough to fill over 100 minutes of run time. This is just a pile of decoration without any soul.
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Promising at first, boring at the end...
RealLiveClaude3 June 2003
When I saw Subway, I wanted to see mostly the talent of Isabelle Adjani, one of my favorites.

As this movie starts, it seems promising with the dark Paris Metro atmosphere, which is a bit similar to our Subway system in Montreal. The weird caracters, the forbidden passageways and of course the hideout, that subway security can't detect nor approach.

But the story is slow despite good performances and the up-going suspence, that if security can snatch those guys. And by the middle of the movie, mostly the last half hour, it is boring.

Too bad for a story which started so well with such a offbeat caracter like Christophe Lambert (in blond, clad in a dark trenchcoat and bearing a neon stick) falling in love with a rich, sultry woman like Isabelle Adjani...

See it for curiosity only...
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a confusing and a boring movie
sunhee_yongdae_lee29 October 2000
Before I saw this movie, I was pretty excited because Luc Besson is one of my favorite directors since "Leon" and Isabelle Adjani is my favorite French actress. However, after the quality of the movie was much less than my expectation.

The idea of people living under the subway station was great and I liked the car chasing scene at the first sequence but the plot was predictable and boring. The romance between Christoper Rambert and Isabelle Adjani seems too quick and not reasonable enough and I was confused by the very ending scene.

I assume that this movie was Besson's practice before making "Nikita" and "Leon".
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an awful film, hard to believe Luc Besson made something this bad
cbp-226 February 2000
I perused over some of the other comments by IMDB users and for the life of me I cannot fathom what other people are raving about in this film. The plot was barely anything to speak of, the dialogue was terrible (a waste really with all the potentially good actors in the movie), and the music by Serra was tedious at most. I do understand that this movie was released in 1985, but his lyrics were so uninspired that it made me cringe just to listen to them.

For the first ten minutes or so of the film, I kept on telling myself that the storyline would soon pick up. Unfortunately, it never did. The "climax" of the movie where all the loose pieces were supposed to come together left me feeling cheated. The finale left me feeling that Subway was a total waste of my time.

Well at least I got to see Jean Reno in tight jeans and a headful of hair.
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An example of Besson's great style...
Funky A2 April 2000
Subway is a very original movie. It combines an experimental feel, along with a very entertaining result. The actors give a very good performance. The musical score is excellent, and fits the movie perfectly. The story is simple, yet interesting. It is an excuse to present the characters, which are the most important thing in this movie. But what is good about this movie is that it is an example of Besson's style, a mix of the French style of moviemaking and the American style. For a French viewer, this movie feels American, but for an American viewer it probably feels very French... Strange, but very good. This movie is not Besson's best, but it is excellent.

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Subway is full of action and will take you places you have never been.
allietaylor-0764323 November 2015
Subway is full of action and will take you places you have never been. The lead character, Fred, is constantly on the run from the cops and is wanted by the woman of his dreams, but not in the way he wishes. This film throws you into an unfamiliar world filled with quirky characters, all of which are involved in some sort of shenanigans deep in the depth of a Paris subway station. Moments after Fred's buddy, a thief notorious for riding on roller skates, gets arrested on the subway, Fred is chased through the long dark corridors, zigzagging through the crowds to escape their hold. He then flees their sight by slipping into an elevator and maneuvering his way through the secret passages of the subway.

Luc Besson directed Subway in 1985. The films main actors include Isabelle Adjani (Helena) and Christopher Lambert (Fred). Subway is not rated. Filming was partially held in the Paris Metro and the Paris RER, along with scenes filmed on sets. After spending his night at an upper-class party held for the lovely Helena, Fred gets his hands on very important documents belonging to an entrepreneur/gangster, Helena's husband. He abandons the party and winds up on the run in the Paris Metro among exotic strangers.

Fred discovers this convenient hiding spot among people who are similar to him. He can't help but fall in love with the woman out to get him, Helena. All while becoming part of the underground world of the subway Fred and his friends are persistently being chased down by the police and their enemies. To add even more pizazz to the film, Fred gathers a group of musicians to play incredible tunes that comprise the soundtrack of the film.

The music in Subway really gives it a unique touch. It isn't the kind of music you hear in your typical action movies. It has it's own jazzy vibe to it. Also, the fact that a piece of the film is centered on the music really draws you into it more. It is fun to see these characters who are lounging around underground all day, make some ear pleasing music. It sets the tone as a eccentric, action-filled film.

I recommend this film. I must include that children should steer clear of watching this film, because of its vulgar language. I think many people will enjoy this film, because Luc Besson has created something different from the norm. With this film you can get some laughs and be put on the edge of your seat at moments. Its interesting music makes it amusing to view and listen to.
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Romance of the Paris metro
mishaa715 May 2011
The subway is perhaps the most bizarre place for a love story. Metro station - a place where there is usually tired from the bustle of this world and it is here that turned a beautiful love story. Thus, the film is doubly interesting. She is wife of the wealthy, he is - a thief who steals her husband's important papers, but not to cash in on them, but only for the next meeting, for any reason for it. To hide from the people of her influential husband, he goes to the Paris subway, where they live bright unusual characters.

The silent drummer, always knocking on what gets into the performance of Jean Reno. Man on roller skates, who lives on theft in the performance of Jean South Anglade. The black cool guy of the impressive sizes. Police captain played by Richard Borinzhe. At what his character is really funny. He was making fun of his two subordinates, who are complete dupes, manage to miss the "man on roller skates" literally at your nose.

Finally he joined Fred to them to create a musical group. The film turned out very bright thanks to directing and music by Eric Serra. He wrote the excellent tracks in this picture. He also wrote music for the film "GoldenEye" James Bond.

Lambert played the role of eccentric romance with the ultra cool hairdo like his girlfriend in the film Adjani.

Besson took a picture of undying love in an unusual entourage. Perhaps one of the most stylish romantic drama 80.
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pointless, plotless, putrid
Lloyd_Dobbler26 November 2003
I love French cinema, just so you know. However... This movie has no plot, no character development, no vision, and no coherence. It starts nowhere and goes nowhere. It doesn't so much "end" as much as it just "stops". I own this film on DVD, and I can't even give it away because I'd feel responsible for whoever else would watch it. Besson is a master. Even the masters can craft some dreck. This is a terrible, terrible, terrible film.
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A triumph of style over substance... but I love it!!!
monty-5717 July 2003
Warning: Spoilers
It's kind of hard to write about this movie, because it's hard to write about things you really like. It's really quite a unique film, and is certainly not without its detractors. It's also light and airy, not deep at all - simply very entertaining.

I really appreciate it for its sleek, streamlined style, its exquisite widescreen cinematography, its excellent and thoroughly modern score, its motley collection of some of the best actors in French cinema, including some of those in cameo roles. Some of the shades of character shown by the actors are quite intriguing - Lambert's slight insecurity, wisecracking (ha!) laugh and sob story; Adjani's impetuousness; Hugues-Anglade's nervy energy; Reno's nonchalance, percussive rattling and love of coffee; Galabru waxing philosophical with Bohringer about blind violence; Alexandov's nonchalance ("If you don't like me so much, get a divorce!"), etc.

People are pretty much right when they say the film has no plot. It's just a series of vignettes, really. One of my favorites is the scene where Fred and Helena dance to Rickie Lee Jones' "Lucky Guy" playing on a boom box. There's something undeniably romantic about it, and I lived out a similar scene the autumn of 1992 in one of my amorous entanglements.


There's even a small take on the relationships of musicians joining a band: when Arthur Simm first meets the new band put together by Fred, you can sense his shyness as he glances over at Fred and hugs the wall with his back. Serra seems blasé behind his sunglasses and Reno shakes his head. But then they just begin to play, and everything turns out all right. In a subsequent scene, Simm is shown thoroughly at ease and having a laugh with the other bandmembers. This is all very recognizable and so true-to-life.

When I visited Paris in 1996, I recognized some of the locations from the film when I went to Les Halles, one of the biggest shopping complexes in the city, which is sort of "organically" integrated with the Metro. It's the place where the horizontal escalators are and also the large elevators seen in the sequence where the cop known as Batman chases Fred. While in Paris, I also picked up the soundtrack on CD at the Virgin Megastore on the Champs-Elysees. I was living in the States at the time, and the soundtrack to SUBWAY is really very hard to find there - I never saw it on CD in the US, but managed to track down and buy an LP of it.

I had been waiting for years to see the film in its original aspect ratio and in French, and I finally got my chance when I bought the licensed (non-pirate) Russian DVD of the film, which is in widescreen and has the French soundtrack with Russian subtitles. There is a small defect on the DVD as there are a few episodes where the subtitles don't match the dialogue - the text of the subtitles in these scenes are a repetition of the dialogue in the previous scenes. It's as if the Russian DVD distributor didn't care much about the release of this film, which can also be said about the initial American DVD release. I traded this DVD in and got a European-issue (Region 2) DVD that had complete, properly functioning Russian subtitles, as well as English and host of other languages.

It's one of these films that stands up to multiple viewings, both in whole or in part. Having the definitive DVD version certainly helps.
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Doesn't look much better fifteen years on
allyjack3 August 1999
I watched this again to see if the integration of flashy Hollywood values into French cinema looked any better fifteen years on, and it really didn't. The movie's extremely loose plot and visual restlessness have their engaging elements, although more in theory than practice: I wish, for example, that the contrast between the initial elegance of the spiky-haired tuxedoed Lambert suggesting a punkish James Bond, and his ultimate incarnation as a doomed Robin Hood, were more interesting. The movie also contains traces of anarchy (Adjani disrupting a constipated upper-class dinner party); conventional send-up (the ineffectual cops); scattered cultural references; and apparent unapologetic self-indulgence. It occasionally makes it as a kind of scrapbook of high-concept images and impressions, but is probably best summed up by Lambert's ineffectual, smirking central void of a protagonist. The final delivery of a would-be significant message through an utterly trashy song doesn't cap it off much.
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A Postmodern Fairytale
RasBolding8 January 2004
Subway is Luc Besson's finest hour; it is one of those movies the self-proclaimed experts of cinematography love to hate for the very same reason aged rock critics hated Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode in the eighties because they didn't play guitars. The simple truth, however, is Subway is more of a MOVIE than many of the classics of the canon, simply because it deals less with narrative in the traditional sense and much more with visual aesthetics - compared to print media it is closer to comics than to books; Subway is the movie equivalent of cult comics such as Brothers Hernandez' Love and Rockets and Liberatore/Tamburini's RanXerox rather than the Great Gatsby. So when written off as empty and superficial it is hardly a fair criticism because Besson did so obviously not try to make a traditional movie when he did Subway. Writing it off as pure junk is like writing off instrumental music because there's no singing.

Subway is, in many ways, an eighties postmodern fairytale where our young new wave hero, Fred, sets out to get the girl of his dreams, Helena. What follows, though, is exactly that, a dream, made of dark, underground labyrinths, cold neon light and electro-funk sounds courtesy of Eric Serra who, by the way, stars in the movie as himself, producing the music which is the soundtrack of the feature. The Paris metro underground is inhabited by its own community and the symbolism is stunningly clear and charming - we're dealing with the SUBculture of the SUBway, this is the underground. And of course Fred wants to form a rock band too.

The plot IS very simple - after all, it's a fairytale - and this is not a weakness, quite the contrary. Subway is not pretentious at all but delves instead into style, humour and something which can best be described as sheer industrial aesthetics; quite frankly this is the movie that will make you love all the cold, neon-lit underground corridors in the world. And then you don't even know if you get a happy end or not.

All in all an absolute favourite of mine plus a rare chance to see a stunning performance by Christophe Lambert. Oh and great haircuts.
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titecasimirette26 July 2017
One of the most boring movies my family and I have ever seen. We didn't really understand the plot (apart from the thief running away from his victim's henchmen). The relationships between the characters are unclear; the reasons behind their actions as well. Musicians start popping up out of nowhere. The end is sudden and unclear. Many loose ends remain.

The trailer is also misleading (full of action scenes, which turn out to be the only action scenes in the movie).

A complete waste of time in my opinion.
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