Money Train

14 Jun

It’s just another day in New York City when the message comes in that a subway car has been taken hostage. And so begins The Taking of Pelham 123, a remake of the 1974 film that starred Walter Matthau. In this update, Denzel Washington is subway dispatcher Walter Garber, and John Travolta is the mastermind behind the crime, a man who identifies himself only as “Ryder.” Also in a high-profile role is James Gandolfini, who plays the lame duck mayor and at one point says he won’t call a press conference because “I’m not running for president. I left my Giuliani suit at home.”

There were moments in this movie where I wished Washington and Travolta had switched roles, and where I wished Gandolfini was less of a caricature and more of a power player. Also, there were times where the plot and characters tried my patience — the kid and his girlfriend on their webcam, for example. But as summer popcorn movies go, Pelham is a fast-moving, effective thriller. Director Tony Scott infuses the movie with an urban feel that doesn’t get diluted by the big stars at the center. The film is very New York, and despite that, it’s a good time. I’m giving Pelham a solid B.

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