|A bad combination.|
For the record, I don't like Dustin Hoffman at all. He's one of those regular guy actors that everyone loves (Jimmy Stewart is an example from another era) that really annoys me. I can't even really explain it, I'm just repelled by him. I think maybe it's the self-awareness he has vis-a-vis his regular guy status. Also, a movie star should have something remarkable about them. I don't mean great physical beauty or anything-- just something compelling. I don't see anything really compelling in Dustin Hoffman. Which is why I think this movie is so great. Despite my lukewarm feelings for Dustin Hoffman, I can watch this movie over and over again. It's just that good. I don't mind that he's in it because the point is that it's the story of an average guy in an above average situation. In fact, it is his averageness that makes the movie work.
Hoffman's presence in Marathon Man makes clear that this is a film concerned with the survival instinct. Babe is an intellectual, a man seemingly uncomfortable with asserting himself or dealing with confrontation who is forced to fight for his life. In many ways, this sort of action film is much more challenging than later films as it maintains a realistic tone all while showing scenes of incredible violence and danger. More to the point, the protagonist is shown to be greatly affected by these incidents. The action hero of the 80s is unfazed by all that occurs around him. He dodges bullets and explosions without expression or makes a joke of them. Babe is clearly shaken by the events he has experienced and it is his emotional transformation that makes this film.