The Taking of Pelham 123
I 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.