Friday, June 19, 2009

The Taking of Pelham 123

"Yea, a little too Raph."

A subway train controller is drawn into negotiating with a hijacker who's taken one of his trains hostage. But, during their talks it very quickly becomes clear that neither man's story is as simple as it seems.

The thing that really stands out about this movie, is that there really isn't much that stands out about this movie.
Here's Denzel Washington (Fallen) playing one of his three main character archetypes: The flawed every-man, with a heart of gold. Now of course it's Denzel Washington, so he does it extremely well, but the fact remains... And on the flip side of the plot you have John Travolta (Basic), playing more or less the same (enjoyable) villian he played in Face/Off and Broken Arrow. John Turturro gives his patented "some thing's not quite right with this guy" performance, and Luis Guzman plays the guy with the Puerto Rican accent. Now, are all these performances enjoyable? Absolutely! But they're the same enjoyable we've already had and, well, enjoyed.
Alone what I've pointed out wouldn't be enough to kill a movie. Unfortunately the story follows suit. For the most part it goes right where you think it's going to. And then when it gets there, it does what you were hoping it wouldn't do. Not because doing it would make for a bad ending, but because doing it would make for the same ending you've seen a thousand times.
Many of the few outside the box moments in Pelham take the form of some strange cinematography choices. The more sensitive movie-goer may wanna drop a couple Dramamine before showtime, otherwise some overly shaky camera shots may put your popcorn bucket to some unintended use.
Take all that, mix it together and you have a 9 or 10 on the fun-o-meter and a ho-hum on the innovation scale. Not even the entertaining exchanges between James Gandolfini (The Last Castle) as the Mayor and John Benjamin Hickey (Law and Order) as the deputy Mayor can save what feels way to much like a re-run, though I guess technically it is one.
Now if your a Denzel Washington fan like me, there's really no talking you out of going to the theater to check Pelham out- in fact you probably already have since there was a bit of a delay with this review. But, honestly I can't say I feel like I really got my money's worth of movie. Sorry Denzel, it's nothing personal.


Kello said...

Luis Guzman has such range, he can play anything from a gay Puerto Rican, to an angry Puerto Rican.

Watcher X said...

Watcher X - "Ho-Hum and blah..." for the movie, not the review! Althou a reference to up-chucking in the popcorn bowl...not so pleasant...