Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Taking of Pelham 123 or "John Travolta Is Not Threatening"

So tonight, for lack of anything better to do, me and my brother sat down to The Taking of Pelham 123, because our lives lacked sufficient amounts of Denzel Washington.

Speaking of Denzel, what's up with him and train movies lately? New contract stipulation, perhaps?

So I know nothing about the original film from the seventies...dunno where to go with that. Anyway, The Taking of Pelham 123, which is a pain in the ass to keep typing out, centers on a plucky but tired Denzel Washington as Garber, a dispatch operator...guy for the subways of New York. He's having a lame day with a butthole boss when suddenly things take a turn for the worse:

He spills coffee all over his sweater vest!! ...And also this dude hijacks a subway car and takes a bunch of innocent people hostage. That too.

By sheer unlucky coincidence, this happens on Garber's watch and he ends up chatting with John Travolta's character, the ringleader hijacker, Ryder, possibly the dumbest name ever. He even says it studpidly, "Call me Ryder," he says. "Like a subway rider?" Garber asks. "Yeah...but like, with Y"

I know I've used this picture before, but Tommy Lee Jones is just so good at expressing my annoyance for things

So Garber and Ryder chat, with Ryder demanding ten million dollars in an hour or he starts shooting bitches as the mayor (James Gandolfini) and a hostage negotiator (John Turturro), join in on the fun. One thing I really liked about this movie is that I feel like movies like this when it all comes down to the one everyman who gets the job done, I feel like they go out of their way to make like the mayor and government types come across like incompetent dickwads or arrogant butt-monkeys, but not so here. The mayor is kind of an ass (he's James Gandolfini, what do you expect?) But he's not that ridiculous unbelievable type where it's like "I'm the mayor and your stupid, we don't negotiate with herp-derpy-derp" he and the other side characters use fucking common sense and try to get the job done as best as they can. It's just nice to see.

So yeah, Ryder psuedo-bonds with Garber as they talk and I dunno if we're supposed to feel empathy for him or what but you don't cuz he's shooting hostages and screaming and ranting and raving and pretty much just trying way too hard to be scary. It's John Travolta guys, he's about as threatening as an overweight cat named Mr. Bugglesworth. All the neck tattoos and "motherfucker!" shouting in the world isn't going to change that.

So one good thing is the movie does not drag, it hurtles forward at a breakneck pace, which leads to some pretty frenetic editing which gets annoying quickly but thankfully isn't used the whole movie. Denzel kills as the world-weary Garber, but it's Denzel and I'd surprised if he did anything else but be awesome. The only problem with his character is he's supposed to be this frightened but determined nerd and when he ends up in a position to go after Ryder and save the day, there's no tension, you're all like "It's freaking Denzel Washington, he's got this!"

The police can all go home now, Denzel's here!

It's a predictable movie, you see a laptop with a webcam, you know it's going to come into play (and also become an egregiously huge dangling plot thread, but who's counting?), if Garber's wife makes him promise to bring home milk when this whole mess is over as a way of making him promise to stay alive, you know what he's bringing back in a grocery bag later. It's a film without a lot of surprises, but it's well-acted, well-paced and fun to watch. The Taking of Pelham 123 earns itself 3 catapults out of five, and I recommend it if there's a boring evening in your future...even though no matter how many times you show me this:

All I can ever see is this:

Speaking of, since Simon won the latest banner quote and foolishly gave me carte blanche on what to draw, I decided on a movie I think we'd all like to see (I know I would):

Don't act like you wouldn't watch it

This is Sugary Cynic saying "I'll take the bus, thanks" 'Night!

(As Garber goes to deliver the ransom money to Ryder)

Cop: "So, who the hell did you fuck to get this job?"

Garber: " was easier than it looked"

Cop: "Yeah...fucking yourself always is"


  1. Ha! Denzel is (as a friend says) "the shiznits" (don't think I spelt that right, but oh well).

    I haven't seen this movie, but it does seem like an overly obvious ending because of Denzel's presense so I skipped watching it :P

    And, yes, I would totally watch that movie!

  2. Hi - I vaguely remember the original version of this film. It was in the 70s and I think I remember that one being a bit obvious as well. I too have rouble getting JT's "Hairspray" character out of my takes the edge off his villain roles :)

  3. all i have to say about that last image is....YES.

  4. Funny stuff but I have to say I didn't enjoy it. As you say, predictable and Travolta is about as menacing as the easter bunny. Just didn't grab me at all, and for a film that is supposed to be nail-biting, I don't think I touched my nails at any time throughout. I was too busy checking my watch and wondering what to have for tea.

  5. SNL did a pretty solid parody of the Unstoppable trailer last night. So there's that.

    I'd watch that movie.

  6. Nyx: Edna Turnblad as a train hijacker, there's no way it could be bad!

    Ron: Good to know I'm not missing out by not having seen the original

    Morose: Thanks! :D I would also have accepted HELL YES

    Dan: Yeah, it wasn't much tension-wise, but I am a sucker for some Denzel Washington bad-assery

    Simon: Yeah I saw it, kinda funny, but that one guy did a really spot-on Denzel impression.

  7. The last time Travolta did anything remotely redeaming... Which, by the by, will also make you see him as not threatening.

  8. lol, that was great, but I couldn't really focus on Travolta because of the copious amounts of JAMES WOODS.


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