Monday, June 15, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom 7 1 9 9 o
Blockbuster remake falls short
Solid acting from John Travolta and
Denzel Washington can't save this
By HANS YADAV
Daily Arts Writer
"The Taking of Pelham 123," the remake of director Joseph
Sargent's 1974 classic, recycles all the ingenuity of the original
and offers nothing new to modern audiences.
The newly released "Pelham" is a trainwreck
of inconsistency and inadequacy.
Walter Garber (Denzel Washington,
"American Gangster") is a New York sub- The Taking
way dispatcher who notices that one of the of Pelham
trains, Pelham 123, has mysteriously stopped 123
en route. As it turns out, a man known only
as Ryder (John Travolta, "Wild Hogs") has At Quality16
hijacked the train and is demanding ransom and Showcase
money in exchange for his hostages' safety. Columbia
The plot of this version of "Pelham" stays
fairly true to its 1974 counterpart with, of
course, a 2009 touch-up. Streaming video over the internet,
GPS and other modern gadgets and technologies allow a more
contemporary audience to better appreciate and connect with
But the movie does so many other things wrong that mak-
ing an overall connection is impossible. Thebiggest gripe about
"Pelham" is how misguided it feels.
The tempo of the movie flip-flops
between high-paced action scenes
and moments of very slow dialogue.
One scene hasblaring police cars rac-
ing through the streets of New York
while the next has a philosophical dis-
cussion between Ryder and Garber.
Whether or notthe suspense is meant
to be building during these slow
points remains a mystery because,
simply put, the film's production is
The most annoying examples of
production gone wrong are the high-
octane sessions that are purposely
shot in blurry slow motion. With this
technique, any chance of adrenaline "OK, which one of you said
is immediately killed. Ultimately, the
audience is stuck in a semi-energized state throughout the
The action in "Pelham" is OK, but certainly nothing awe-
inspiring. There are the typical exploding cars and shootouts,
but not much else. Another problem with "Pelham" is that
it suffers from a bad case of mediocrity. It does enough to get
by, and that's pretty much it. With no crazy special effects,
plot twists or surprises, "Pelham" really only appeals to those
already familiar with the older version of the movie.
One of the few good things about the film is its acting. Tra-
volta and Washington are both convincing enough so as not to
'Wild Hogs' sucked?"
create another problematic distraction. Travolta may actually
beat out Washington in terms of what he brings to his respec-
tive character. Washington is always solid, but Travolta adds a
sense of realness to Ryder. Ryder displays logical inconsisten-
cies, frequent profanity and deceptive moral alignment, traits
that are so familiar with reality. Ryder is notthe typical master-
mind, and that's more than fine.
Remakes of classic movies rarely ever succeed in bringing any-
thing new to the table, and "Pelham" is no exception. With sub-par
action, incongruous tempo and zero ingenuity, the film is doomed
to be one long, bumpy ride.