I vaguely remember the original Taking of Pelham One Two Three. It was one of those gritty '70s thrillers that flooded the world in the wake of The French Connection. It starred Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. There was a subway train. Some guff about passengers being kidnapped for ransom. Walter Matthau wasn't being funny like in The Odd Couple.
Fast-forward to this year. Pelham One Two Three is once again being taken, but this time it's Pelham 1 2 3 (the fewer words people have to read, the better). Walter Matthau is Denzel Washington. Robert Shaw is John Travolta. There's still a subway. Same guff about people being kidnapped for ransom. Only now, instead of that character-centric '70s grit, there's a bunch of Tony Scott histrionics (complete with shoehorned-in car chase, for the big droolers in the crowd) and Travolta doing his me-so-bad-ass routine (which was already old in Face/Off). Thank goodness for Denzel Washington and his patented authenticity. And a script that has been thought about just enough to make you not feel entirely insulted. Except for the ending, which I won't get into.
Another upgrade from the days of Pelham One Two Three: there's lots more bright, blinky, flashy stuff. Computers. Cell phones. A subway control center modeled after the war room in Dr. Strangelove. What did criminals do before WiFi? Shoved heaters in people's guts and told them to put 'em up, I guess.
Sunday, November 08, 2009