Ted Kramer's wife leaves her husband, allowing for a lost bond to be rediscovered between Ted and his son, Billy. But a heated custody battle ensues over the divorced couple's son, deepening the wounds left by the separation.
In New York, the brother of an infamous Nazi war criminal is killed in a head-on collision with an oil truck. Shortly thereafter, members of a covert U.S. government group called the Division begin being murdered one by one. Meanwhile, graduate student and marathon runner Thomas "Babe" Levy researches history as his father, who committed suicide after the Communist witch hunts of the McCarthy era ruined his reputation. When he sees his brother, one Division member, stabbed to death, it is revealed that Christian Szell, the White Angel of Auschwitz, is wrapping up loose ends to smuggle priceless diamonds from the United States. Written by
Anthony Hughes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Marathon Man starts off rather slowly, and for the first hour at least, it feels as if you're watching a human drama rather than a thriller. However, unlike a lot of thrillers; Marathon Man uses this time to create characters and establish the situation, which ultimately pays off later on in the film when the movie really gets going. When the film does step on the gas, it is as thrilling as any thriller you will ever see; Dustin Hoffman is subjected to all sorts of things, most notably an excruciating torture sequence. This scene is powerful and painful on it's own, but it is made more so by the fact that we have already gotten to know the character and therefore we feel sympathy for him, as well as cringing at the images we see on screen. That scene alone is enough to propel the movie in the realms of greatness, as it is simply one of the most powerful that cinema has ever given us; but this movie is a hell of a lot more than just a torture sequence.
The plot revolves around a car crash that takes place in downtown New York. One of the men in this crash is the brother of the infamous Nazi war criminal, Szell, who has some diamonds hidden in a safety deposit box. From then on, many members of a US defence organisation, known as "The Division", begin turning up dead and soon after, Thomas Levy, a college student, obsessive runner and the brother of one of The Division's members, becomes embroiled in the plot. It is easy to see the parallels between the plot movie and World War 2, from the withered ex-Nazi (indicative of the state of the actual regime), to his enemies being American; the movie has world war 2 written all over it. The film is excellently directed throughout by John Schlesinger. Schlesinger, probably best known for "Midnight Cowboy" does a fantastic job of keeping the audience on the edge of their seat for the duration of the movie. A constant foreboding feel is created, and you're never truly sure of what will happen. This is exactly what you want in a thriller, as nobody likes it when they can predict what will happen next.
Dustin Hoffman takes the lead role of Thomas Levy. Dustin Hoffman is a fantastic actor, and he certainly gets to flex his acting muscles here, in a film which sees him go through all manner of unpleasant scenes and also hold up lots of relationships with various characters, as well as drawing sympathy from the audience to accent his situation. Roy Scheider (of Jaws fame) stars opposite Dustin Hoffman in the movie. Scheider doesn't get a great deal of screentime in the film, but he still manages to do good things with the time he does have. The third lead role, that of the Nazi war criminal, is taken by Lawrence Olivier, who is also a fantastic actor and gives a great performance in this film. He gives his character just the right atmosphere, and we can tell just by looking at the man that he is cold and uncaring, and also past it; which is the crux of his character.
The film ends with a spectacular sequence, which sees the movie and the two centrals characters come to a satisfying conclusion. The characters are the central theme in this movie, and had the movie have ended differently it could have unravelled everything that it had created, but the movie's end is absolutely perfect and does the entire movie justice. A brilliant piece of cinema.
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