Juggernaut is a 1974 British disaster film. It was produced by David V. Picker Productions and released in 1974 by United Artists. The film was directed by Richard Lester, who took over after directors Bryan Forbes and Don Medford each left the project in pre-production. On taking over the film, Lester completely rewrote the script with writer Alan Plater, as he recounts to biographer Andrew Yule. Producer/Writer Richard Alan Simmons, unhappy with the new script, had himself credited as Richard DeKoker on the finished film. The film was shot mainly aboard a real cruise ship. SS Hamburg had recently been sold by its German owners to the Soviet Union and renamed SS Maxim Gorkiy. Before the Soviets began operating the ship for paying passengers, they chartered it to the film company. The Black Sea Shipping Company livery carried by the Maxim Gorkiy was altered, the Soviet Union's hammer and sickle emblem in the funnel and bow replaced by the logo of the fictitious Sovereign Line, and the ship was renamed the Britannic. Advertisements were run in British papers, soliciting extras who would take a lengthy cruise in the North Sea for free, but with the knowledge that the ship would actually seek out the worst possible weather, as the story demanded seas too rough for the lifeboats to be lowered, trapping the passengers on board. Because the charter of the ship was negotiated as oil prices skyrocketed in February 1974, the Soviets ended up losing money on the deal.
A cruise liner, the SS Britannic, is in the middle of the Atlantic when the owner of the shipping line, Porter (Ian Holm), receives a phone call from a man with a lilting Irish accent who refers to himself only as Juggernaut. Juggernaut claims to have placed seven barrels of amatol (high explosive) aboard the Britannic that will explode and sink the ship by dawn the following day. The barrels are booby-trapped and any attempt to defuse them will result in an explosion. Details of how to render the bombs safe will be sent in exchange for a ransom of five hundred thousand pounds sterling. To show he is serious, Juggernaut arranges a demonstration, a series of small explosions on the Britannic's bridge that seriously injure two crewmen. Porter is all for paying the ransom and saving the 1,200 passengers on board (the seas are too rough to abandon ship). However, officials of the British government inform Porter that if he pays the ransom, they will withdraw his company's operating subsidy. Instead, a bomb disposal expert, Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Fallon (Richard Harris), and his team must parachute into the Atlantic, board the Britannic and defuse the barrels before the deadline. Meanwhile, Supt. John McCleod (Anthony Hopkins), whose wife and two children are on board the Britannic leads the efforts on land to find Juggernaut. After an attempt to defuse one bomb by robot fails, Fallon goes to his backup plan. Fallon's team will defuse one barrel each. Fallon will go first, informing his men of each move. If he fails and the bomb explodes, his men will know what went wrong. However, if two more bombs go off, the ship will sink.