A tense shipboard thriller that only lives up to that description in its last 30 minutes, JUGGERNAUT features an all-star cast with less than 24 hours to diffuse 7 bombs hidden in plain sight aboard a massive ocean liner.
Anthony Hopkins is Sgt. McLeod, a London detective whose wife and kids are aboard the liner on a voyage to the US.
He manages a British team scouring for leads on the identity of the terrorist demanding a ransom, while the liner owner Porter (Ian Holm) battles to pay the $1.5 million against the wishes of Scotland Yard.
Richard Harris is terrific as Commander Fallon of the bomb squad, who paratroops into the ocean and boards the ship with his team in hopes of disarming the devices. David Hemmings is solid as his right hand man Charlie. Omar Sharif is the ship's captain, while Roy Kinnear (Help!, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) provides plenty of comic relief as the on-board entertainment steward who wont let bombs disrupt his planned social events.
It is nice to see Clifton James (JW Pepper in the 007 film "Live and Let Die" and its sequel) play a straight part without the buffoonery so often associated with his most famous roles. He's very good here as Corrigan, a passenger on board who has a nose for trouble long before its announced to the 1200 passengers.
The entire film moves about as fast as the circling ocean liner until it's final half hour, when Harris and his team face off against the identified terrorist to disarm the bombs as a team in the final minutes before detonation.
Still, you have to give credit to director Richard Lester (Superman II, A Hard Day's Night, Help!) for not taking the stereotypical approach of the endless introductions to predictable passengers etc etc.
Lester keeps things focused on the threat, the race to disarm the seemingly impenetrable bombs and the few key figures on ocean and land working to avoid a massive disaster at sea.
The conclusion and the ever reliable Richard Harris deliver enough tension to earn this 1974 British thriller a B-.