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The Taking of Pelham 123

Year: 2009
Studio: Columbia
Director: Tony Scott
Producer: Tony Scott
Writer: Brian Helgeland
Cast: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Luis Guzman, John Turturro, James Galdolfini

An old-fashioned hostage drama in new clothes, considering it predated Die Hard by over a decade. Or is it a new-fashioned hostage drama because Tony Scott's ADHD jitters and Michael Bay-like propensity to set off an explosion at every opportunity could only be anchored firmly in the modern era?

I haven't seen the original at the time of writing this review and unless I hear something spectacular about it I'm not likely to, so have to assume it had the same uninspiring-but-simple hook this remake does.

As such, it has to rely completely on the charisma of its leading men. Washington carries his end effortlessly, and while Travolta looks only slightly less comfortable, you can see he always has tons more fun playing villains.

He plays a former Wall Street guy who leads a small, menacing gang to take control of a NYC train, forcing the operator at the other end of the phone (Washington) – a metro exec who's under investigation for a bribe scandal – to be his mouthpiece to the city government for a ransom.

With the outgoing city mayor (Gandolfini) weighing in and New York itself a character as cops rush to get the loot to the location on time, Scott plays fast and loose with the thrills, interspersing the action with plenty of sweeping shots of choppers and police heavy artillery getting in position. He's not quite as far gone down the frenetic rabbit hole as he was with Domino, but it's also not his most restrained work.

Any shortcomings in the plot are made up for by the personalities of the leads though, and you'll have a good, testosterone-sozzled time.

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