Tony Scott had me at hello. But here we are, halfway in our conversation and I want to say [as I look down at my watchless wrist], “Jeepers! Would you look at the time. I’m late for a thing.” Top Gun was the first R-rated movie that my parents let me see. I got to see fighter jets and I was introduced to the french kiss. Four years later, he even momentarily smoothed over my distain for Nascar racing when he made Days of Thunder. At the age of 65, he’s still at the top of his game when it comes to blowing back our hair with sheer, unadulterated speed. I always knew that I could turn to Tony Scott when I felt, “The need for speed”… and apparently he can even do it with trains.
The Taking of Pelham 123, is a remake of the 1974 film of the same name (alternate spelling; One Two Three) and features two of Hollywood’s premier actors, John Travolta and Denzel Washington. Denzel plays Walter Garber, a MTA dispatcher assigned to Railway Control when train Pelham 123 is hijacked by a man calling himself Ryder (Travolta). Ryder demands $10 million (in 100 dollar bills) within an hour, and tells Garber that he’ll kill a passanger each minute that they are late.
This film shows clearly that the making a movie is a team effort and can’t rest on the abilities of one Mr. Tony Scott. He was, however, a very naughty boy in allowing such unneeded and unrealistic crash scenes. You’d think that the NYPD would be much more careful in its transportation of $10 million greenbacks. And I thought the streets were closed down? New York’s “finest” still managed to crash 3 times, with the final wreck coming from an ambulance no doubt… that t-bones the speeding prowler and knocks it so hard that it can no longer conform to the rules of physics and gravity… they tumble, log-roll-fashion through the intersection, off a bridge, landing on an underpass to be met by on-coming traffic. Ouch.
As much as I like Travolta and Washington, they weren’t right for this movie (at least this script). Denzel can be a tremendous force if given the right role (ex. Glory), but here we get apple sauce when we asked for curly fries. Travolta spends most of the movie acting tyrannical and forcefully authoritative. But I don’t know if it’s just me, but I can sometimes tell (without even listening to them) if they are a true-blooded bad ass. Travolta is Danny Zuko, Tony Manero, and Vincent Vega. Now Harvey Keitel, or Samuel L. Jackson; either one of these would have made a much better Ryder.
Oh yeah, and when an Army Ranger has the guts to step in front of a madman with a gun, just to get shot, he should have the guts to try and take the gun from the lunatic’s hand, methinks. All in all, good action and soundtrack… no depth or real substance. Strongly mediocre. Your thoughts?