Metro (1997)
Directed by Thomas Carter

Artistic & Entertainment Value
* * ½

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When Michael Korda (Michael Wincott), a psychopathic villain, takes the customers and staff of a bank hostage after a botched robbery, Inspector Scott Roper (Eddie Murphy) is called out to negotiate with him. Having failed to convince Korda to surrender, Roper and his new partner McCall (Michael Rapaport) are forced to chase the murderous but clever madman through the streets of San Francisco. Fortunately, after a variety of dangerous encounters, they are eventually able to apprehend him. Roper then tries to return to his ordinary life and his romance with his girlfriend Ronnie (Carmen Ejogo), but Korda continues to threaten him, first from his jail cell and, later, in person after he has managed to escape.

Thomas Carter's Metro is a fast paced, hackneyed, and trivial movie. The threadbare story exists almost exclusively to provide excuses for the film's frequent action sequences, which is just as well since what narrative there is is filled with unresolved elements, challenges the viewer's credulity, and is generally completely uninspired.

While the action sequences are reasonably well done and the production values are decent, many of the actors, especially the leads, give exaggerated, stereotyped, and occasionally tiresome performances. Murphy's Roper is a cool, wisecracking hero. His girlfriend is beautiful and does not seem to be unduly bothered by the multiple attempts that are made on her life because of her boyfriend's job. McCall is a tough, honest cop who has a number of talents, such as lip reading, that come in very handy at appropriate points in the movie. The villain is a frightening lunatic whose sole pleasures in life are stealing money and inflicting pain and death on all those around him. All are completely forgettable.

Sadly, the characters are hardly the only poorly realized element in Metro. The director's attempts to build tension are especially predictable and uninspired. He consistently relies on various techniques used in countless other horror and action films. At one point, for example, when we know that there is an intruder in her flat, Carter shows Ronnie looking into a medicine cabinet so that we can expect to see the reflection of her attacker in the mirror when she closes it. Later, after Korda inevitably kidnaps the helpless young woman, the dastardly fiend gives Roper the opportunity to rescue her from being killed, in this case, by a saw to which she has been tied. In the same scene, Carter tries to create a sense of anxiety by reminding us of McCall's skill as a marksman and then placing Roper in McCall's line of fire so that he is unable to aim at his target, Korda. The list goes on and on. By filling the movie with such an interminable succession of clichés, the director has, however, managed to avoid the need to incorporate even a single original idea.

Despite being unremittingly hackneyed, Metro is actually entertaining at times, but only just.

Review by Keith Allen

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