(1974)3.5Tom WienerIn the canon of Richard Lester's work, Juggernaut occupies a solid second rung, below his masterwork Petulia and his Beatles films (A Hard Day's Night and Help!), as well as his Dumas films (The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers). Here, Lester effortlessly rises above the mediocrity of the star-laden, special effects-driven disaster genre to something intimate and witty. The characters in Juggernaut are all weary and haggard looking, even before the discovery of the bombs aboard the cruise ship. Lester isn't interested in square-jawed heroism or plucky little people rising to the occasion. The characters aboard the floating bomb of a ship are all flawed: the captain is carrying on an adulterous affair, the bomb disposal team almost blow up the vessel on their first try at defusing, the roly-poly entertainment director is a bust at eliciting even a smile from the passengers, who are a sulking and hardly plucky lot. It's not an anti-genre film, though, because Lester and writer Richard Alan Simmons supply it with tart and sly humor, typical of Lester's best work. And finally, the suspense is real, in part because of the frailty of the characters. This is one disaster film where anything is possible and the survivor list might be very short indeed.