"The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3"
Directed by Tony Scott.
Written by Brian Helgeland. Based on the novel by John
Starring Denzel Washington, John Travolta, John Turtorro and James
Release Year: 2009
Review Date: 6/16/09
Sometimes, they should just leave well
original movie version of "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" was a
1970s thriller with some laughs thanks to a ho-hum performance by
Walter Matthau as a New York City transit supervisor who witnesses a
subway train hijacking at the hands of four hardened criminals.
It was not great, but it did have a great score and it had 1970s
over-the-top acting by its bit players. The remake of this
film--based, like the original, on a novel by John Godey--is
unnecessarily profane like movies USED to be; it doesn't have much
action but when anyone gets shot, they get lit the hell up; it again
features four criminals, but this time, one of them is not only a
bad guy fresh outta prison, but he's fresh outta prison for...white
collar financial crimes??? So, he hijacks a subway train???
I'm getting ahead of myself here.
Hostage films generally don't do it for me, but I like to give
everyone a fair shake; what the updated version of "The Taking of
Pelham 1 2 3" does have going for it is a more believable lead in
Denzel Washington as disgraced NYC transit cop Walter Garber.
This time around, he's been given a backstory--he happens to get the
ransom/demands call from the lead baddie named Ryder (John Travolta,
doing a mix of his baddies from "Broken Arrow" and
"The Punisher") a
few days after being charged with taking a bribe at an industry
trade show. So, he's in a fragile state when he gets the call
from Ryder, and some of the dialogue between the two men is not bad.
This is the major improvement over the original film.
The rest of this, though? Uhh, not
James Gandolfini plays the New York City
mayor in a way similar to how he's portrayed in the previous
film--as someone mildly puts it, he's quite the douchebag.
Gandolfini looks terrible (not to mention, terribly miscast) and
adds nothing to this throwaway part...here's to hoping that his
post-"Sopranos" career doesn't consistently look like this!
John Turturro plays a cop or a NYCTP higher-up that also gives us
nothing throughout his brief screen time...it was almost like the
movie was shot on location in New York City and somebody said "Hey,
you wanna see if Turturro's at home right now? Muthafucka
works for free anyway..." Even scenes like the movie's
scattershot intro could have been better if someone told director
Tony Scott (the director of hyper-stylized fare such as
"Spy Game" and
"Domino", now that
he's post-"Top Gun") to actually play Jay-Z's "99 Problems" straight
through, instead of cutting it into four pieces.
There isn't much action; Luis Guzman shows
up and utters like four lines as one of the principal bad guys (the
other two have basically no lines); even the dude that played Chris
on "The Wire" has a throwaway role here. There were a couple
of funny moments whenever the Travolta character just ends scenes
with lines like "I'm getting off the fucking phone, motherfucker!!",
but then you mix that with a subplot featuring a girl who demands
that her boyfriend say "I love you" during an chat session on the
boyfriend's laptop, while providing the world with a glimpse of the
terrorist situation on the subway train. Ugh.
I talked to my friend Chi over the weekend
and I told him he needed to see it because despite the slight
improvement in the lead character, there were a lot of people
collecting a LOT of fucking checks in this movie. I mean, come
on, how dumb do we look here???
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard