The Great Train Robbery (1978)
UK title: The First Great Train Robbery

The Great Train RobberyStarring Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland, Lesley-Anne Down, Wayne Sleep, Michael Elphick, Malcolm Terris, and Robert Lang.
Written by Michael Crichton based on his book.
Directed by Michael Crichton.

Grade: C+

Review by Carlo Cavagna.

If James Bond had been born 100 years earlier and failed to find gainful employment with the British government, he likely would have been robbing trains. Or at least that's what writer/director Michael Crichton would have you believe, because there is no difference between Edward Pierce (Sean Connery) and 007, other than the period dress. Pierce is resourceful and clever. He's an unflappable risk taker. He's suave with the ladies. And he's after a shipment of gold bars being sent to British troops fighting in the Crimean War.

The Great Train Robbery is a rather typical heist film, based on the first holdup of a moving train in 1855. At the time it was released, the action was undoubtedly fresh and exciting, especially the extended sequence of Connery climbing on the roof of the train. From the way it's filmed, it's clear that much of the footage must have been actually shot on a moving train, and that Connery had to do some of his own stunts. Unfortunately, it all seems a bit dated now. Part of the problem is that Crichton's direction is static and uncreative, thus failing to maximize the potential excitement. Nevertheless, the story of the heist itself is absorbing, as Connery and co-star Donald Sutherland must constantly adjust their plan in order to cope with unexpected and seemingly insurmountable difficulties.

Review © March 1999 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
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