Tony Scott's The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, the remake of the 1974 thriller starring Walter Matthau, moves along at a brisk pace for a while, filled with the director's usual razzle-dazzle, but it derails in the end.
If you saw the first, then obviously there are some updates in the story of a hijacked subway train in New York. The ransom demand is $10 million versus $1 million that Robert Shaw's character demanded, and a laptop streaming video plays a key part. But it's essentially the face-off. This time John Travolta is Ryder, the angry head of the gang that's behind the crime, and Denzel Washington is Walter Garber, a transit authority official who is under suspicion of taking a bribe and happens to take the call. No one trusts him, including the mayor (James Gandolfini), but Ryder wants him.
The original Pelham was more of a cat-and-mouse game, but the new one has a more in-your-face Big Apple quality. It doesn't really add up to much, and Scott and screenwriter Brian Helgeland seem to be doing more sweeping up in the end than fitting the puzzle together. Still, Travolta — who does snarkiness well — and Washington — who comes across as a bit of an overweight and over-his-head hero — manage to make the obvious enjoyable to watch.
The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 retails for $28.96 or $39.99 on Blu-ray.