The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009)
Reviewed on 2009 December 28
Very good remake of the 1970s classic, with John Travolta having fun as a tattooed, angry thug with an ax to grind.
Ryder (Travolta) and his men concoct a can’t-miss plan: they’re going to take a subway car of passengers as hostages, killing them one at a time if his ransom demands aren’t met. He doesn’t count on Walter Garber (Denzel Washington), a soft-spoken dispatcher who does his best to defuse the situation. Walter isn’t at all happy to be Ryder’s choice of sounding board, but he realizes he needs to keep Ryder as calm as possible to keep the hostages alive. To do this, he has to battle with the bureaucracy of his workplace, in addition to Ryder’s viciousness and nihilism.
One of the handful of remakes out there that I enjoyed, with good performances from the leads, and James Gandolfini was funny as a pride-puffed mayor on his way out of public office. What I also liked was how crisp the cinematography was: no close-ups or jump cuts or other annoying artsy stuff that obscured the action. There were a few slo-mo and blur scenes but they worked, because they didn’t block our view. (I hate that trend by the way; I didn’t pay $10 only to feel like my contacts ripped.)
Three chocolate morsels.