The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (R) - 2009 - Runtime: 106 minutes
Starring: Denzel Washington, John Travolta
Director: Tony Scott
I've enjoyed Tony Scott as of late. While Deja Vu was not great, it was a decent rental and I thought Domino was sorely underrated. I thought I was going to see this movie in the theaters when it first came out, so I rented the original movie just so I could see what the hype was all about. Apparently the original 70s version is considered a cult classic, drawing inspiration for a list of modern day directors, including Quentin Tarentino. And I didn't like it. I guess I just didn't get it. It moved too slow, the tension wasn't really there and the climactic ending was sorely lacking in suspense. I didn't get the sense that the bad guys were really that bad. So I decided to not make a point of catching the Scott version in theaters.
But I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Scott's modern spin on this "classic." It was well paced, the bad guys struck the right note of villainy and mystery. And you get a back story on Washington's character enough to sympathize with and despise him at the same time. It all adds up to a great drama with enough suspense and action to whet the appetite. Washington does a great job at playing a schmuck who's been relegated to dispatcher in the subway traffic control department. It just so happens the day he's working happens to be the day Travolta's character, with a few goons, hijacks a train with a super sleek and super smart plan to make tons of money. And unlike the original, I actually felt all the passengers were in real danger this time. However, there was way too much cursing in this movie! It was utterly ridiculous. Yeah, I see that you have a dragon tattoo on your neck, you wear sunglasses and you can kill people. You don't need to throw in f-bombs in every sentence to get across the fact that his character is a "badass."
And the movie leads up to an actually climactic ending with a little bit of a twist. It wasn't exactly a twist, which I'm glad for, because sometimes movies try too hard to insert some sort of "gotcha" moment at the end and this movie didn't need it. It can stand on its own without winking at the audience. And not to be gone unnoticed, James Gandolfini's performance as an unsympathetic lame duck mayor is pretty superb.
All in all, I really enjoyed this one! Scott, I'm looking forward to your next movie, don't let me down!
Rating: Rent It!