Review

  • Cards on the table, I loved the original 1974 movie on which this latter-day remake was based. It was exciting, clever and funny. I don't know what it is with modern-day remakes of classic 60's and 70's films but it seems to me that directors throw almost all the good stuff out and bring in instead eye-hurting jerky-flashy camera-work, an ear-poundingly loud soundtrack which is constantly in the background and even-louder talking characters who swear and commit random acts of mindless violence whenever it suits them.

    So the Pelham 123 subway train in New York gets hijacked by disgruntled psychopathic Wall Street trader John Travolta as part of a devious plot to make a killing on the stock- exchange and revenge himself on the city for turfing him out of his high-paid job years before. That's your plot folks, with Denzel Washington as the demoted subway controller now running point in a desk job pending an investigation for corruption, who finds himself on duty just as Travolta and his bunch of merry men put their plan into action.

    For some strange reason madman Travolta hits it off with decent man Washington, ignoring professional cop negotiator John Torturro, as he executes his nefarious plan. There's the expected number of bloody killings along the way, completely irrelevant car-chases around New York where cars don't just crash, they rise vertically in the air and roll over a dozen times on collision (the police have no less than three separate accidents trying to race the ransom money across town to meet Travolta's deadline) and of course, an out of control train tearing over New York with a car-load of innocent passengers who probably wish they'd taken the bus instead.

    It's all unbelievable nonsense as you'd expect. I'm fast tiring of Washingston's ever-narrowing repertoire of decent-but-flawed leading men, Travolta is just awful as the loudmouth gang-leader and Torturro irrelevant as the negotiator. Only James Gandolfini shines as the city mayor who divines Travolta's real plan, wouldn't you know it, before the cops do.

    The direction is garishly bad, the dialogue excruciating, especially the scenes between Washington and Travolta and Washington and his wife. There's no humour present at all, although there are some unintentional laughs, like when a rat runs up the trouser leg of a police sniper just as he's taking aim at Travolta, causing him to miss.

    I've decided I really have to stop watching high-octane low-intelligence nonsense like this in future. Better yet, I wish Hollywood would stop making or remaking movies like this altogether.