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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Subway
Subway
Columbia/Tri-Star // R // November 6, 2001
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jason Bovberg | posted November 18, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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MOVIE:
Some great directors have resumes dotted with occasional stinkers. The example at hand: Luc Besson. When he's hot, he comes up with brilliant actioners such as La Femme Nikita and Leon: The Professional. When he's cold, he dribbles out such wasted efforts as The Messenger and Subway. Inexplicably, the meandering, pointless Subway has its admirers. I suppose that's partially due to Christopher Lambert's cool Miami Vice stylings, the soundtrack's so-tacky-it's-kitschy Axel F electronica, or perhaps Besson's admittedly fine widescreen compositions. Me, I scrambled to find much of value in this mess.

The screenplay steadfastly avoids attempts at significance or character empathy. Subway tells the story of Fred (Lambert), a cool spiky-haired dude who steals some valuable documents and flees to the subways to escape his pursuers. (Over the credits, we're treated to a car chase that careens through the same tunnels as the hair-raising chase in Ronin, which, coincidentally, also stars Jean Reno.) Fred wants money in exchange for the documents so that he can start a band. A gorgeous millionaire's wife (Isabelle Adjani) complicates his plans with romance. A weird, disjointed series of underground adventures follows, as Besson tries his hand at French New Wave. We meet many eccentric characters who don't mean anything to the story. In the end, while Fred's newly assembled band preaches that "guns don't kill people, people kill people," and an out-of-left-field death scene turns into a joke, you'll want to stab your DVD player's Off button.

VIDEO:
Presented in its original 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio, enhanced for widescreen TVs, Subway looks good but not great. The image tends toward the soft side, and you'll notice distracting artifacting and shimmering, particularly in scenes that have shifting horizontal lines, such as vents. Still, a nice image for this film's age.

AUDIO:
The Dolby 2.0 audio tracks (the original French and the English dub) are unremarkable. However, the film's eclectic (some might call it chaotic) music comes across cleanly, and fidelity remains strong. Annoyingly, the DVD defaults to the English dub with English subtitles.

EXTRAS:
The disc offers no significant extras, only cast and crew biographies and a few trailers. But you won't find a Subway trailer. Instead, the disc offers three trailers for other Besson films: The Professional, The Messenger, and The Big Blue, all of which are non-anamorphic.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Many people speak fondly of this film's style-over-substance artistry. I would agree that it has virtually none of the latter, but I'd also argue that it has little of the former. Nevertheless, Subway has its fans, and this disc's good image and sound quality will satisfy them.

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