The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

A Movie Critic Next Door first: I get to review the same movie twice! Okay, so it isn’t really that thrilling, but I take my excitement where I can get it.
Instead of Walter Matthau, we have Denzel Washington as beleagured civil servant Walter Garber (not Gerber), though he’s still dressed sort of the same. The original character was Zachary Garber, but they changed it here as a nod to Walter Matthau. Nothing against Walter Matthau, but Denzel is easier on the eyes. Instead of Robert Shaw as big bad guy Mr. Blue, we have John Travolta as big bad guy Ryder (not as in subway rider — this is a tribute to the original Mr. Blue, whose real name in the first flick was Ryder).
And instead of a mere one million dollar ransom, we have a demand for $526,315.79 per person, or ten million dollars and one cent. The penny is Walter’s broker fee, apparently, though I’m pretty sure that’s a little low. I was also a little off on my earlier guess of a fifty million dollar ransom, in more ways than one, but you’ll see about that when you watch the movie.
It all starts out basically the same: the guns might be a little fancier, but Ryder and his goons still all board the train separately, do their maneuvering, and the next thing you know, there they are in the middle of a dark tunnel, just them, 19 hostages, and one indestructable laptop computer. See, they can be techier now, and they are, but they do a good job. I mean, it isn’t just techy for the sake of being techy. I really need to find out if this is a return to the original novel these movies were based on, or if they’re getting farther away. Yeah, just what I need, another book to read.

The New York Transit Authority, keeping the world safe for democracy!

Because this is the 21st century, it isn’t just the bad guys who have skeletons in their closets. Thanks to the internet, everyone’s little secrets start slipping out as things move along, making everyone distrustful. I was surprised people didn’t start suspiciously interrogating themselves. Google has much to answer for. Also, Ryder isn’t the calm, collected bad guy that the first Ryder was. John Travolta actually foams at the mouth at least once. Seriously. But he is organized, and very John Travolta-like. I’m not entirely sure myself what I mean by that, but he does have very similar styles for his bad guys. And his good guys, come to that, but it works for him. He’s actually very unnerving when he calls Walter his hero. Would you want to be the psychopathic killer’s hero?
Anyway, the supporting cast is just as good. John Turturo (The Good Shepherd) plays hostage negotiator Camonetti, and Luis Guzm├ín is Phil Ramos, one of the hijackers. I swear, that guy’s never out of work. He was also in The Bone Collector with Denzel Washington as a forensic tech — your official MCND trivia for the day. And it’s a good movie, worth a solid three and a half idols. The half is because they didn’t do any product placement. Hooray! Except for John Travolta’s watch, which is a Breitling, which he’s the spokesperson for. Crap. Okay the half is because they remembered their roots and gave a nice tip of the hat to the original main characters. There.