It's hard to describe my contempt for this remake if you are not familiar with the original. First off, the original had a much realer feel to it, the stations, control tower, command center, the car etc. You felt that you were really down there. This one was made in the subways too with the cooperation of the MTA, but it felt so generic with its trick photography, rap blasts, etc. It was more like some lame MTV video than a movie at points. Where it fell far behind the original is in the character. This one is just a mind game duel between some generic Hollywood mastermind who also is a pointlessly violent movie psycho and Joe Niceguy in his space age command center. The original had a rich set of extras: the tired cranky subway workers, the hostages in the car, the other hijackers, as well as Detective Garber's partners. They all added some humor and color and made it feel that it was a reality based movie. Even the bad guy, a ruthless mercenary, was at least operating in reality, not playing violent head games with his counterpart on the other end of a radio link.
For instance, Joe Niceguy Garber-Washington is sent home by his superior after the NYPD hostage negotiation team moves in. So what does Psycho Bad Guy Ryder-Travolta do? He freaks out, threatens then murders a hostage in cold blood in order to get Garber back on the mike. No one, not Garber , the cops, or his colleagues even says something like: "you psychotic bastard what did you shoot an innocent man for you scum? That was not one of your demands." Instead the pacify him and act like it was the city's fault the man was shot. The original had a subway management guys who insulted and refused to cooperate with the hijackers until prodded by Garber. One of them was even murdered in the original when he walked down to the captured subway car unarmed and alone, and kept berating the hijackers. Then Bad Guy threatens to murder a teenager unless Good Guy admitted he took some bribe he was accused by the MTA of. Of course Good Guy fesses up, saving the youth's life. But when you add that to the last scene of Bad Guy murdering the motorman over Good Guy's absence, you have to wonder how someone so childish and impulsive could ever mastermind a sophisticated crime that took planning and others, as well as his previous life as some master of the universe. It reminded me of one of those "crazed vet with his gun in the room full of hostages for no particular reason" sort of scenarios, not a complex heist like this.
Both of the leads had all sorts of background story fillers that the original did just fine without. Then there is the mayor. In the original he as played by a nobody but he and his coterie of advisers were funny as he struggled with a cold. When he asked if paying off the hijackers would get him any votes, the reply was that he would get the hostages' votes. In this one Gandolfini as Mayor walked through the role, providing not much more than a cameo. Both movies had a car accident scene when the police were running the money from the federal reserve bank to the subway station cross town at high speed through downtown. But this one had about 3 times the footage as well 3 times the wrecks, for what purpose, NASCAR fans?
I could go on and on, but this one just had two stars, one hamming, the other loafing with a bunch of trick editing and some extras to fill up space. It was technically a good film with good production values so I gave it a 3 instead of a 1. The best think about this movie, when compared to the original, is to show us how bad things have slipped in Hollywood.
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