The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

Starring Denzel Washington, John Travolta, and James Gandolfini
Directed by Tony Scott (Man on Fire)
Rated R for violence and pervasive language
Appropriate for ages 17+

    When armed men following a ruthless leader (Travolta) hijack a subway car and hold it for ransom, dispatcher Walter Garber (Washington) must becomes both the negotiator and the only hope that the hostages have of surviving.

    This remake of the 1974 film starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw is a nice update and a solid action thriller.  Travolta makes for a pretty decent villain here, although at times he seems a little too out of control for someone of his background and former status.  Washington once again turns in a great performance, raising the acting from those around him to a higher level.  Gandolfini is very believable as the mayor of the city trying desperately hard to both do the right thing and yet still get reelected.  The only miscast is John Turturo, who acted like he was still in Transformers-mode and was very difficult to take seriously. 

    Tony Scott (Deja Vu, Spy Game) is very good at directing and pacing with this genre and this film is no different.  The film moves very fast and doesn’t give you much time to think about its various problems, such as a secondary very weak plot involving the gold market. 

    One thing I don’t like about Scott’s latest films is that he puts his thumb print all over the films in post-production and this one is his worst offender yet.  The opening credit sequence is the most annoying and difficult to watch that I can remember ever seeing.  There are far too many speed-up, slow-down, look at what I can do in the editing room moments throughout the film and this inability to just tell a good story is so distracting that I actually left the theater deflated.  I really like his stories (even when they are remakes), but sometimes I just don’t like the way he tells them.  I hope that when he takes on his next project, rumored to be a remake of The Warriors, that he doesn’t insist on telling us throughout the film that it’s him that is making it.  C