The Taking of Pelham 123

The Taking of Pelham 123I had no plans to see Tony Scott’s latest frantic project. John Travolta has lost any appeal to me, as has Denzel Washington.  Neither of them has done an interesting film for years now.  Nor has Scott for that matter.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Man on Fire and I more than enjoyed Spy Game, but this Deja Vu nonsense gets boring real fast.  It’s due to Peter Travers rating of three and a half (not Bitchin’) stars, and what is almost a raving review to get me to theaters.  I’m not upset I went, but I’m not glad I went either.

Pelham 123 is a remake of 1974 film by the same name, directed by Joseph Sargent.  The plot is this: Ryder (John Travolta) is a highly intelligent psycho with a real potty mouth who decides, with the help of a few faceless douches to cleverly take hostage a subway car in New York.  He starts negotiating with Garber (Washington) and one, two, three, you have a thriller.

Basically, this is a dirty version of Inside Man.  The whole heist is a facade to cover up for some bigger job that isn’t immediately clear.  But it’s really not that interesting.  Scott only wishes that he could have come close to what Spike Lee did in 2006.  I haven’t read the novel by John Godey that this is based off of, but I’m certain the script adapted by Peter Stone was manipulated to play on the stupid, over-harped themes of terrorism.  Shame on Stone for taking the easy way out and, worst of all, not even managing to make it interesting.

Scott’s hyper-frenetic direction is just as frantic as it usually is.  This actually provides for some pretty cool opening sequences, horizons of New York, shots of the subway, playing with sound a visuals.  But then the actors start to talk and, there’s not much there.  Scott does manage to give the audience of a few OMG moments.  But the intensity is quickly Danny Zuko yelling over a radio at Coach Boone to ‘kiss [his] bung hole.’  That’s a quote.  And a good representation of the overly pedestrian script.  As a summer blockbuster, this is a disappointment that should only be provided consideration if The Proposal is sold out.


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6 Responses to “The Taking of Pelham 123”
  1. Mad Hatter says:

    “As a summer blockbuster, this is a disappointment that should only be provided consideration if The Proposal is sold out.”

    …Or if your local Blockbuster has no copies of the Walter Matheau/Robert Shaw original!

  2. Blake says:

    I stand corrected. That is another, much better option.

  3. Fletch says:

    “Basically, this is a dirty version of Inside Man”

    I can’t recall Denzel’s resume off the top of my head, but I’d say that that one you referenced was his most interesting lately. I’d say American Gangster, too, which was a fine film, but it didn’t really push my buttons or anything.

    I, too, went mostly due to the general “pretty good – decent” ratings this was getting, but it pretty much sucked. There have been plenty of films Tony Scott has made over the years that I’ve enjoyed the hell out of (True Romance at the top, followed by Top Gun, Enemy of the State and Spy Game, to name a few), but he seems to be regressing. The neverending barrage of WHOOSHES and unnecessary shakicam every time a car drove by was Ridiculous (capital R used on purpose). I thought the meat and bones had potential, but he sucked it dry. Big time.

  4. Blake says:

    Fletch, I couldn’t get too excited about American Gangster. It seemed like that all had been done before. But you’re right, the rest of the films you listed are good ones.

  5. Reel Whore says:

    This was a good afternoon diversion, but I’ve already forgotten it. I wish Tony Scott would go back to making great movies where the camera stands moderately still for at least a few minutes.

  6. CMrok93 says:

    If the trademark Scott gloss serves as a superficial hook, his also-adept manner of building tension and suspense then keeps one interested. Good Review!
    CMrok93´s last blog post ..The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 2009

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