|Columbia Pictures | Release Date: October 6, 1978||CRITIC SCORE DISTRIBUTION|
Some of the performances (Hurt, Davis) give it an illusion of depth, but it's mostly expert in avoiding moral resonance and ambiguity: everything is satisfyingly clear-cut, just as every shot and every cut are geared to instant emotional impact. Political, moral and aesthetic problems arise when you try to superimpose the film on the 'truth' it purports to represent. As a head-banging thriller, though, it makes some of Hollywood's hoariest stereotypes seem good as new, and it panders to its audience's worst instincts magnificently. Read full review
Midnight Express is a sordid and ostensibly true story about a young American busted [in 1970] for smuggling hash in Turkey and his subsequent harsh imprisonment and later escape. Cast, direction and production are all very good, but it’s difficult to sort out the proper empathies from the muddled and moralizing screenplay which, in true Anglo-American fashion, wrings hands over alien cultures as though our civilization is absolutely perfect. Read full review
In Parker's hands, Billy's story has become a virtuoso horror show-an exercise in emotional manipulation designed not merely to arouse chills but to turn the audience into avengers. Despite the remarkably controlled, honestly conveyed performance of Davis, Billy finally seems far less vivid than his prison friends-Randy Quaid's highly combustible American roughneck, the superb John Hurt's strung-out English junkie. Parker captures their camaraderie well, but he fails to convey any sense of day-to-day prison life-so keen is he to get to the assaultive highlights. [16 Oct 1978, p.76]
Screenwriter Oliver Stone and the director, Alan Parker, have subjected their Billy (Brad Davis) to the most photogenic sadomasochistic brutalization that they could dream up. The film is like a porno fantasy about the sacrifice of a virgin. It rushes from torment to torment, treating Billy's ordeals hyponotically in soft colors -- muted squalor -- with a disco beat in the background.
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