* Brief Spoiler *
It's a breath of fresh air when an action movie these days simply resorts to the typical clichés and doesn't try to impress the viewer too much. Twenty years ago this would have been bad. Now, with each and every movie trying to surpass the last entry into the genre and, for the most part, ending up as an overblown bore, the standard action flicks are wanted more than anything.
"Metro" (1997) is just that. It's got some of the oldest tricks in the books while adding lots of neat stunts and action pieces. Towards the end, the female love interest of the hero is tied to a metal mechanism that will slice the girl's head off if the red safety button is not pressed. The villain lets go, the hero presses the button as quickly as he can, and moments later the villain returns with a sports car, driving right towards the hero. If he lets go of the button, the girl's head comes off. If he doesn't move, though, the villain will run him over with the car and the girl will die anyway. What's he do?
It's the classic action ideas such as this that help the movie. It reminded me of those old silent movies where the dastardly villain would tie a helpless girl to a railroad track, then climb into his stolen steam train and surge down the track towards her. But "Metro" also leaves room for car chases and shoot-outs - in one scene, a San Francisco trolley is hijacked by the bad guy, and the hero pulls up alongside the trolley in a Cadillac, jumps aboard, fights the villain, ends up pushing the full speed lever, and ramming the trolley into cars and right off of its line. It proceeds to scrape along the sloping road, off its tracks, scraping metal, ramming into everything in its path.
It reminded me of the car chase in "The Rock," another good action movie with a visibly larger budget but the same fun quotient as "Metro," which is "Beverly Hills Cop" meets "The Negotiator," for the most part.
Action movies always have setups that pay nothing to the movie other than a character introduction. "Metro" has a great one. We are introduced to the hero, Roper (Eddie Murphy), who is *not* the film critic on Ebert & Roeper, the latter of whom I could not get out of my head every time the name Roper was said on-screen.
Roper is a hostage negotiator. He talks down the bad guys from what they're doing, and when things get really bad he has to take drastic action - such as shooting the bad guy in cold blood. Roper does this in the beginning after a funny and original setup scene, in which he walks into a building with a bag of donuts. The hostage taker doesn't believe they're just donuts. "Open the bag!" he says. His hostage takes the bag, opens it, and shows him donuts. "They're just donuts!" he says.
In another type of action movie, perhaps Roper would have concealed a gun in the donut bag. Not in "Metro," which pays its respects to the other action movies such as "Beverly Hills Cop" that helped make Eddie Murphy what he is today. I read a short review on "Metro" that said Roper, Eddie Murphy's character, is another loud-mouthed, unlikable character of the sort that Eddie spoofed with Buddy Love in "The Nutty Professor." I beg to differ. Sure, he's loud-mouthed, but what Eddie Murphy character isn't? He's much more likable than some Murphy characters I can think of off-hand.
I could go into the plot of "Metro," but I'm not sure it really matters. For the most part, I've got to say it's routine but it has its little twists and surprising moments along the way. Roper is training a new kid to take his place some day. The kid is played by Michael Rapaport, who succeeds in making his character smart and equally likable. I knew what was going to happen to him. As soon as I saw him I said, "At the end he'll get shot but he'll survive." Well, it happens. But for what it's worth, "Metro" is a lot better than I thought it would be, with some great action sequences, sly humor, likable characters, and plentiful nods towards the standard action films out there, some (such as the decapitating machine) dating back to the adventure films of the silent era.
"Metro" is, in its entirety, a fun movie.
6 out of 6 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.