Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Taking of Pelham 123

Movie name: The Taking of Pelham 123
Year of release: 2009
Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, James Gandolfini, John Turturro, Luis Guzman, Michael Rispoli, John Benjamin Hickey, Gary Basaraba
Genre: Action, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4

This is the 4th collaboration between Tony Scott and Denzel Washington, following "Crimson Tide", "Man on Fire" and "Deja Vu". With the exception of Crimson Tide, they all pretty much look and feel alike. Tony Scott has a background in commercials and video-clips, and that is something that comes across in all his films - the jump cut editing, the over saturated photography. If he sometimes produces interesting results, such as "The Hunger" and "True Romance", most of his films are mediocre where style is always treasured over substance. "The Taking of Pelham 123" is a remake of a film from 1974 with Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw, and follows the events that unravel when a train is taken hostage in New York. The highjackers demand a huge ransom and if their demands aren't met, they will start shooting every hostage. Walter Garber the person coordinating the train schedule and routes that day ends up being the negotiator in the entire process, and the game of cat and mouse that starts ends up with unexpected results. The film is pretty standard in it's approach, and Tony Scott tries to infuse some life to the story by fast forwarding and inserting graphical cue cards, but no matter what, the film feels stalled and lifeless. His usual visual style doesn't help the story and the actors end up being the rescuers of the whole thing. Denzel Washington, John Travolta and James Gandolfini save the film from total oblivion, but can't really make very interesting.