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The Style's Supposed to outweigh the Substance!,
This review is from: Subway [DVD]  (DVD)
From it's opening car chase (with it`s loud soft rock soundtrack and brightly sunlit look it could have been shot by Tony Scott), it's fairly clear that Luc Besson's quintessentially '80's Cinema du Look classic is going to be a film about style. And from there on, daylight's hardly seen again at all as we enter a dark world of smoke and neon. A quirky, offbeat New Wave gem of a movie, Subway is intentionally plot- lite but extremely heavy on stunning imagery. British and American critics often entirely miss the point and bemoan it's shallowness, but that's kind of like complaining about an instrumental piece of music for having no vocals.
It's important to remember this is a Besson film, the man whose previous picture, Le Dernier Combat (1983) featured a grand total of two words of dialogue, so it's fairly safe to say Subway too is about doing, rather than saying (out of it's five screenwriters listed at the start, only one is credited with "Dialogue", although the whole idea of any kind of story was an afterthought to all the super- cool music video visuals).
Christopher Lambert, in probably his best French film before Highlander convinced him he had to become a Hollywood action star (and ultimately end up languishing in DTV hell after a few ultra- violent misadventures too far), plays Fred, a blonde, spiky- haired punk in a tuxedo that's probably not his. A kind of anarchic James Bond, Fred's stolen some important documents from the rich husband of young trophy wife Helena ( a gorgeous Isabelle Adjani) and gone into hiding underground, quite literally, in the Paris metro system.
Various cops and hitmen are then sent after him but Fred finds time to flirt with Helena, befriend the subway's other strange inhabitants in his bizarre (but of course, beautifully shot) subterranean world and even start a band, recruiting various buskers (including Besson's regular composer Eric Serra on bass and a young Jean Reno with hair on drums) and staging their first gig at a metro station.
Watching Subway is immensely enjoyable as long as you don't try to take it too seriously, although for anybody with an aversion to 1980's fashions and music it's probably not recommended, it may be just what Beeson was going for, but on this evidence the French seemed to take the decade's extremes even further than most. It's an incredibly offbeat, whimsical, almost fairytale- like movie (Fred refers to Helena as "Cinderella") that seems to take place just the other side of the real world, kind of like watching Goddard by way of John Carpenter or Walter Hill's The Warriors or Streets of Fire. It's no coincidence that other filmmakers generally seem to be on the "Love" side of this "Love or Hate" movie.