Here Is New York 

click to enlarge pelham123.jpg
The Taking of Pelham 123
Directed by Tony Scott

Just because I prefer the films of Tony Scott to those of his pretentious older brother, Ridley, doesn't mean I'm convinced, as some have argued, that the former is some kind of crypto-populist action-movie genius. However, fanboys pleading the case for the director of Beverly Hills Cop II, Top Gun, True Romance and Crimson Tide will find plenty of ammo in T-Scott's zeitgeisty new Pelham remake.

Compared to Joseph Sargent's grungier original, about a hijacked downtown 6 train (released in 1974, months after John Lindsay left office), this Pelham isn't an especially clever or stylish latter-day B-noir. Better understood as a poor man's Girlfriend Experience, Scott's cynical rehash is an up-to-the-minute report on Big Apple corruption that, as a work of art, feels pretty compromised itself. The players include a Wall Street douchebag (John Travolta), an MTA administrator on the take (Denzel Washington) and a billionaire mayor (James Gandolfini) who pretends to ride public transportation while relying on his limo. Stock characters all, but they're also obvious stand-ins for real life counterparts. (Giuliani and Bloomberg are each subtexts of more than one joke, while scandal-plagued CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo appears conspicuously in news footage.)

Or, put another way, no one is innocent, as Travolta's white-cum-blue-collar criminal repeatedly opines. He ought to know. Wearing his signature toupee/goatee combo signifying evil and camp, the actor gives a calculatedly casual performance, fitting for a hypocritical studio film about a city where people sell their souls. During the finale, Travolta even tries to escape across the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn, reversing the journey of Tony Manero.

Opens June 12


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Film Reviews

© 2014 The L Magazine
Website powered by Foundation