Starring two of Hollywood's most noted and respected actors and a well-established director, The Taking of Pelham 123, a remake of the 1974 film by the same name, should have been great. However, due to Tony Scott's relentless style, as well as an unfulfilling conclusion, the film falters the entire way, providing only glimpses of the feature that could, and should have been made.
From the start, I knew that the film was going to be intense. The trailer alone gave glimpses of the raw, authentic feel that many of Scott's films possess. However, not minutes into the picture, I realized that unlike other hostage style films, Pelham lacked the backbone needed to succeed.
The story, full of inconsistencies and improbable situations, easily serves as the film's achilles heel. From the lighted TV screen in a dark train car to the ultimate face-to-face encounter, situations seemed staged to the highest degree, never fully allowing for a natural, legitimate experience. And while the naked eye might be able to overlook some of these hiccups, the truth of the matter is that there are simply too many to ignore - plain and simple.
On top of that, the dialogue that escapes the mouth of both Washington and Travolta is repulsing to say the least. The constant, unneeded F-bombs create an unwarranted tension amongst those of us watching on, leading many astray during the film's intense, climatic sequences. Throw in some immature back-and-forth conversations between the two, and the film becomes an unbearable swarm of noise.
Fortunately, to some degree, there are a few positives within the scope of the film. Washington and Travolta, though not my personal favorites, did rise to the occasion and give decent performances as Garber and Ryder respectively. Their ability to work separately, yet together, is a representation of true talent; one that cannot be ignored or castrated. Throw in some cool action sequences and a realistic, viable premise, and the film had the potential to be something great.
Unfortunately, it never even hinted at reaching its full ability Instead, it hit a comfort level and stayed. And while the action sequences and fast-paced music will be enough to entertain a few, those who want a film that has a spark will quickly find themselves on the outside looking in at a very disappointing remake.