Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
Interstellar Review
The Making Of The West Wing
Get 12 Issues For Only £25 Today
The perfect gift this Christmas
London Film Festival 2014
Our round-up of the galas, films and interviews
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Dustin Hoffman
Laurence Olivier
Roy Scheider
William Devane
Marthe Keller.
Directors
John Schlesinger.
Screenwriters
William Goldman.
Running Time
125 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
What We Do In The Shadows
4 Star Empire Rating
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Citizenfour
4 Star Empire Rating
Skeleton Twins, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Overnighters, The
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Marathon Man


submit to reddit


Plot
When Thomas Babington’s secrete agent brother is murdered before his eyes, he become embroiled in a plot involving smuggled diamonds and Nazi war criminal, former SS dentist Szell, the White Angel of Auschwitz.


Review

The only movie to truly deliver the visceral power of a dental drill, John Schlesinger’s taut, well written if far-fetched and baffling thriller, is the film that gives you tooth ache in a good way. “Is it safe?” Those words fire a Pavlovian shock of pain through the upper molars for anyone who has taken in the film, an empathic response to former Nazi Laurence Olivier drilling away inside Dustin Hoffman’s innocent mouth, while asking that obscure question. He’s after info, a clearance to sell his ill-gotten diamonds (stolen from Jews during the war), but Hoffman’s luckless Babe has no idea what he’s on about.
 
It’s a moment of icy genius, a starburst of cinema’s knee-jerk powers that almost overpowers all the knitted paranoia of the rest of the movie. William Goldman, a sharp clean screenwriter, sprawls about in unusually complicated fashion — here is a tale of a CIA black ops organisation called The Division who have dipped dirty fingers on all sides, including housing former Nazis, and the clean brother of one doomed operative who doesn’t possess the vital secret everyone thinks he does.
 
The title refers to Babe’s compulsion to run, something that will end up serving him in good stead. Hoffman threw himself into the part with familiar zeal, you half expect he required Olivier to actually drill his teeth. Oliver’s immortal response to the Method madness going on — “Why not try acting? It’s much easier” — harkens from this very shoot, although there is the air of the apocryphal about the story. The ease with which Olivier transforms into this chilling refuge from the swollen evil of the past grants the film a resonance beyond its basic trappings. In real terms, there is nothing more than the motorised scheming of Goldman’s script and John Schlesinger’s up-close style going on, but his actors give its stretched ideas a seriousness and shock value, beyond putting your teeth on edge.


Verdict
Cult thriller that continues to resonate with audiences


Reviewed by Ian Nathan

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Marathon Man
Empire Star Rating

RE: Iz it safe...??

This is one of those movies that you watch it late night on BBC2 or whatever and you kind of take it for granted when you are younger.   Only when you watch it over and over it suddenly strikes you that this movie is not just good; it is brilliant.   Hoffman is good as the young brother of the underrated Roy Scheider's agent, and of course Olivier is also pretty good as the Dentist!   Full of shocks and surprises, with a slimy William Devane (I always like him getting... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 12:37, 08 August 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Iz it safe...??

What a timeless classic with Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier giving amazing performances, probabaly one of the best performances Olivier has ever given...totally remarkable film that keeps you on the edge of your seat!!!! 10/10!!!!!!!!! ... More

Posted by MartyW at 23:29, 04 August 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Iz it safe...??

A quality movie, perhaps Hoffman's best ever role! Adapted suberbly from William Goldman's novel this is a modern day classic......'Is It Safe' just gives you the shakes and a dentists chair will never be the same!     ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Geek at 07:45, 03 August 2006 | Report This Post


Iz it safe...??

Still puts the willies up me, classic movie. Like jonson I thought they'd done a remake for a second, that would have been very very bad. Superb movie making from everyone involved, directors, actors, writer, everyone knocks it out the park. If you haven't seen this, do yourself a favour and buy it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MickeyBricks at 16:48, 30 July 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Marathon Man

I know it's obviously a re-release, but is having 2006 in brackets correct? I thought for a moment I'd stumbled across a remake....noooooooooooooo!! Fantastic film, brilliantly acted and Olivier is one of the scariest and most horrible characters in film. "Is it safe?". I shudder at the line. The panic on the woman's face when she spots a (crapply disguised) Szell...."The White Angel!!" adds to the horror of the movie, and I love the slight twist (SPOILER) when Hoffman's friend (... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jonson at 09:26, 29 July 2006 | Report This Post


SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 48% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
'Today The Pond… Tomorrow The World!'... The 50 Silliest Horror Movie Taglines
Be afraid - or possibly not actually...

Marvel's Infinity War - What Does It All Mean?
Gods! Gems! Gauntlets! We explain it all...

Empire Meets Mike Leigh
On Mr. Turner, 007 and liver in lager

World War II Movies That Win At History
Seen Fury? Here’s what to watch next...

The 25 Shatneriest William Shatner Moments Of All Time
Prepare. For. Many. One. Word. Sentences.

Lists Of Our Lifetime: Empire's 25 Greatest Scares
Monsters, ghosts, horrible old ladies: the scenes that have kept us hiding behind the sofa for the last 25 years. Warning: contains spoilers.

Empire's Interstellar Review
Read our official verdict on Christopher Nolan's science-fiction epic

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)