Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)

A few weeks ago I watched the 1974 version of The Taking of Pelham 123, and blogged about it here.  In many cases, remakes of old movies disappoint.  In this case, without taking away from the 1974 version, this new version takes the story and makes it bigger, deeper, more exciting, and more complex.  I won't say better; it's a different movie, a different era, and a different style.  The claustrophobic minimalism of the 1974 version made it a different kind of treat than the more standard action/thriller style of the new version.
 The guts of the story remain the same, but the stakes--and the adrenalin level--are higher.  In the bad guy's corner, it's all Travolta.  The other members of his gang are little more than placeholders, and Travolta's over the top as the disgruntled former stockbroker who feels like he got a bad deal from the system.  Unlike Matthau's character, Denzel Washington isn't a transit cop, but a dispatcher.  He had worked his way up in the transit organization, but was demoted on suspicion of his taking a bribe from a supplier.  The troubled past of both men come together as they are slowly revealed in the story.

I must say the new version is more exciting than the old one, but I almost prefer the old version's understated suspense.  And I certainly prefer Matthua's discovery of the last bad guy at the end. 

Bottom line, 3 stars.

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