Sunday, 14 April 2013

FILM: The Taking of Pelham 123 (6/10)

Why did I watch it?
A few years old already, I caught this on TV recently. I would like to go on record as saying I have not seen the original film or read the book so I won't be commenting on the necessity of the remake or judging it against anything other than its own merits.

What's it all about?
Denzel Washington and John Travolta square up as good and bad guy in Tony Scott's retelling of the 1974 original film. A group of terrorists led by Ryder (Travolta) hijack a New York subway train taking it's passengers hostage for ransom. Denzel Washington plays Walter Garber, a rail control centre operator unluckily overseeing the train's operations that day.

Should you watch it?
I'm going to get straight to it, upset fans of the original and say that on the whole I quite enjoyed this film. Don't get me wrong it is definitely not without it's flaws, none more so than the hugely anti-climatic ending, cut-out bad guys (except Travolta) and terrible character writing for James Gandolfini's Mayor but up until the ending I enjoyed Tony Scott's fast paced and stylish direction and Washington's performance. The opening sequence, in which the train is hijacked, is a fantastic sequence of New York both above and below ground, framed through quickly edited long-taken blurred shots of colourful taxis and trains all played out to Jay-Z's 99 Problem's.

Travolta's role see him reprise his familiar, unhinged and over the top villain from Face/Off (as Cage) that I can cope with in reasonable doses. Unfortunately, he is given a really clichéd profanity heavy script that doesn't do the film any favours.    

The film works best when Ryder and Garber are separate and playing traditional roles of terrorist and negotiator and begins to stall when Garber leaves the office to meet up with Ryder. The less said about the film's ending the better.

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