Feature

The Taking of Pelham 123

In this update of the 1974 classic, John Travolta plays the psycho­path who hijacks a New York subway train; Denzel Washington plays the policeman who takes him down.

Directed by Tony Scott
(R)

**

A psychopath hijacks a New York City subway.

This “caffeinated” update of the 1974 classic pretty much stays on track, said Lisa Schwarzbaum in Entertainment Weekly. John Travolta and Denzel Washington step into Robert Shaw’s and Walter Matthau’s roles as, respectively, the psycho­path who hijacks a New York subway train and the policeman who takes him down. Director Tony Scott “gets into the zip and rush of urban energy” to assure the audience a wild ride. But his “narrative is rail-thin,” said Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. “Loud, fast, and abrasively funny,” the original combined suspense with “‘I Love/Hate New York’ cynicism.” New York was a “rat hole” in the 1970s, and the earlier version captured this gritty, “end-of-the-line era.” The remake is all “new stars, new subways, and a flashy new New York,” said Rafer Guzman in Newsday. Travolta’s character has no real grievance—he just wants $10 million. Set in a post-9/11, seeming post–financial meltdown Manhattan, The Taking of Pelham 123 nevertheless eschews all social context. The action may move fast, but good luck following its “train of thought.”

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