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Subway (1985)

Subway (1985)

Subway is a 1985 French thriller starring Isabelle Adjani and Christopher Lambert that Luc Besson directed. The movie is regarded as a representative of the cinéma du look trend. This mysterious film by Luc Besson focuses on a mysterious safecracker (Christopher Lambert, Highlander) who is hiding from a criminal in the Paris Metro system. He encounters a group of vibrant and eccentric underground residents willing to assist him and form a musical band while hiding underground and avoiding both thugs and Metro police. The safecracker is still in love with and blackmails Isabelle Adjani, a wealthy woman. Though intended as a wry satire on urban living, the movie succeeds better as a light, carefree diversion with well-executed, action-packed scenes and a lighthearted sense of humor. Subway is a fascinating distraction and a chance to observe contemporary French filmmaking at its most innovative.


The story is simplified to its broadest outlines (some stolen paper hardly even qualifies as a McGuffin), allowing Besson to investigate all of the peculiar details of his setting (various Parisian authorities and vandals are to be complimented for their imaginative art direction and set decoration). This thoroughly enjoyable jeu d’esprit is stylish, if not particularly substantial, and has a lot of comic-adventure flairs. Instead of playing like an action movie, it resembles a virtuoso jazz ensemble improvisation, with various riffs and licks spun off as odd characters perform their pieces before fading into the background. A movie filled with lovely little details: Adjani climbing a stairway while wearing a flowy outfit and Lambert giggling to himself while wrecking his car.

After stealing some incriminating documents from an influential and wealthy businessman/gangster at a party, a man named Fred flees the police and seeks safety in the Métro stations and tunnels of Paris. He settles in among them and makes friends with various colorful individuals, including those hiding in the subway, to avoid being apprehended by the police. While the gangster’s goons search for Fred, he falls in love with Héléna, the young trophy wife of the gangster. She is dissatisfied with her gilded-caged existence and has originally asked Fred to the party shown at the movie’s start. Together with some of his buddies, including “The Drummer” and Enrico, who write the tunes, Fred forms a pop band. The fugitive is under pressure to be found by Héléna’s powerful spouse while Fred is working on this endeavor. Commissioner Gesberg successfully apprehends The Rollerskater, one of Fred’s sidekicks and a long-time police target. A train carrying cash is robbed by Fred and his friend, The Florist; The Florist flees, leaving Fred in possession of the stolen goods.

Fred pays the chamber music group that was supposed to perform in the subway station with proceeds from the robbery. His new band replaces them, but during their performance, Fred is sought after by the police and a man working for Héléna’s husband. While Héléna runs towards Fred to alert him to the danger, the henchman shoots him. Héléna is seen kneeling next to Fred as the movie concludes. Fred is shown smiling and singing along with the band while lying on his back. The audience is cheering them on in the background as they perform.

The IMDb rating for the film Subway is 6.5 out of 10. If you are a thriller lover, you must try this film.