Spokespeople for Kontroll say the London bombings have had nothing to do with the repeated postponement of their film's Orlando-area debut. (It was already playing in other markets before disaster struck.) If they're fibbing and one kinda hopes they are, given the movie's storyline about murders in the Budapest subway it's a reminder of how relative the concept of "good taste" has become. Remember the days immediately following Sept. 11, when even the release of Zoolander was in jeopardy? When the lives lost are not American, it seems, the allotted grieving time is measured in days, not months.
Then again, terrorism per se isn't the focus of writer/director Nimród Antal's nimble dark comedy, which stars a ragtag team of ticket inspectors. Set entirely in their underground world, the film pits their leader, the principled but homeless Bulcsú (Sándor Csányi), against a mysterious killer who's pushing random passengers in front of trains. It's a testament to Antal's filmmaking skill that he's able to balance this suspense plot against the movie's loonier material, which shows Bulcsú's crew hungering for a morsel of the respect afforded their haughty, more professional counterparts across the platform. Antal proves himself an apt pupil of 1970s American cinema, giving us a cadre of sloppy-but-lovable protagonists who are like the cast of Slap Shot airlifted into the milieu of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.
Though some of the humor doesn't travel well, the subterranean atmosphere is weirdly compelling, helped along by an incredibly infectious techno soundtrack and shot composition (via cinematographer Guyla Pados) that's simply gorgeous. Even a potentially ludicrous romance between Bulcsú and a pretty young woman in a bear costume comes off as charming. If real-world circumstances force this little jewel of a movie to be delayed yet again after this review sees print, just chalk it all up as another reason to hate Al Qaeda.
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