I’m a big fan of Luc Besson’s films, but I’m afraid Subway is a little too subtle and underplayed for me…
I knew next to nothing about this film except the odd clip and a seemingly edgy looking poster, however the image depicted only lasts a few seconds! Subway follows Fred, a man on the run who finds himself hiding in a subway station, befriending the odd characters who live there.
That’s about all you will know for the first hour of this hour-and-a-half feature.
It is one of Besson’s earliest works, even before Femme Nikita and Leon, bang in the middle of the 1980s, and it shows; Subway‘s soundtrack is often an abrasive mix of guitar, saxophone and synthetic burps.
While I am all for subtle storytelling and films that hold the cards close to their chests, so to speak, I at least expect the substance to come from characters instead. Especially when everything takes place in a subway station. But the characters are shallow too! There’s no quirkiness, you aren’t certain of people’s intentions (at least not until the very, very end).
There is a good character story buried deep down, and unfortunately many will miss it for the barrage of problems I have already listed. The film’s apparent lack of confidence and depth comes from the lead character’s own harboured feelings for the love interest. Upon reflection (much reflection) I can see it now, but I cannot ignore how disinterested I was for over an hour! The pay off was too brief and too last minute to justify the spontaneous and random scenes and subplots that preceded it.
More unusual, charismatic characters inhabiting the subway would have done wonders to the film, and may have even strengthened the lead’s inner troubles. I love many of Besson’s films, but this one I won’t be remembering.