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Review: The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009)

Going a bit overboard
By DAVID WILDMAN  |  June 10, 2009
2.5 2.5 Stars

VIDEO: The trailer for The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

This meticulously detailed update of the 1974 cult-favorite heist drama retains some of that film's taut pacing and dry humor, and it even boasts some decent performances. Joseph Sargent's original had a certain scruffy B-movie charm, with Walter Matthau reeling off racist and misogynistic asides as a sardonic, harried transit policeman.

The 2009 version offers instead an engaging battle of wills between unhinged hijacker John Travolta and unassuming traffic controller Denzel Washington. James Gandolfini even improves on the original as a sleazebag mayor. Everything's bigger: the crooks ask for 10 million instead of one, and there's a higher body count and plenty of gunplay.

But director Tony Scott goes overboard, swamping the production with brain-rattling rap music, ADD camera movement, and shiny CSI-style computer zooms (our current equivalent of wah-wah guitars), thereby ensuring that this version will appear as dated in the future as Sargent's film does now.

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