FILM RATING: 2.5 stars
Director Tony Scott’s latest movie, a remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009), was one of my latest DVD rentals from Redbox. The movie had two things going for it in my mind to get me to watch it: Tony Scott and Denzel Washington…both of whom I typically love. But the magic just wasn’t there for either of them on this flick. The movie was great looking as always for Tony Scott movies and very “techie” as Tony Scott movies tend to always be. And Denzel Washington’s acting was good as always. I think it was purely the story and the script that just didn’t grab me. Now I admit that I am not much of John Travolta fan either. About the only movie of his I like is Phenomenon (1996)…it’s the exception to an otherwise slate of movies that he has starred in that just don’t do it for me…including Pulp Fiction (sorry to those I offend!). I feel the same way about Nicholas Cage…very few of his movies I like. I don’t know what it is about the two of them, but I just don’t connect with them. It might be their egos or personalities. Or the characters they typically choose to play.
But back to The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3…the first act of the movie was good. It built-up my interest and kept me involved in the picture. But somewhere in the middle act I got bored and found the story to be predictable. And funny enough, I’ve never seen or studied the original 1974 movie, so it wasn’t that. Or maybe it was that. Maybe the problem was that essentially this was a 35 year old story that was updated in terms of look and feel, but lacked the upgrade in character development and story. The thing about great movies I think is that they are both timeless and of their time. It’s a paradox really…like everything in life. Sometimes I like the remake better and sometimes I like the original better. And sometimes both. For me its almost always the same criteria for a movie: Do I like it? Do I like the characters? Do I like the actors and director’s vision/style? Do I like the look/production design or music? Can I personally relate to the story or any of the charcters? There’s got to be something that I really grab on to. And The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 just didn’t have that for me.
I know that a lot of my movie reviews don’t really say much about the actually movie but say more about how I feel about the movie. That’s my approach to movies. It’s an experience for me that I share with you and then you decide if you want to have the experience based on my experience. Isn’t that how we all approach movies? To me, a movie is like eating something. You can talk in great detail about it and describe it to someone and that may entice them to try it out…but at the end of the day, you have to actually EAT something in order to truly experience it and make a decision on whether or not you like it or not.
If you want a better Tony Scott/Denzel Washington movie to watch, I suggest Deja Vu (2006). And I also love Enemy of the State (1998), Crimson Tide (1995), Days of Thunder (1990), Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) and of course his classic movie, Top Gun (1986). I look forward to whatever Tony has in store next. And same with his brother Ridley Scott, who has made some of my favorite movies of all time.