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The Taking of Pelham 123 August 3, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Director Tony Scott’s remake of the 1974 thriller starring Walter Matthau (titled The Taking of Pelham One Two Three) is a stylish update that introduces the film to a new generation but doesn’t do much else. I watched the original a few years ago and like that film, this is a simple thriller that has nothing special. It is fun while it lasts but isn’t something that will stay with you.

An NYC subway train is hijacked by a group of criminals, the head of which calls himself Ryder. He threatens to kill the passengers unless his demands for a ransom are met within the next hour. A subway dispatcher, Walter Garber, finds himself in the middle of the chaos, negotiating with Ryder. He has to use all his skills to keep Ryder from killing the passengers. But how does Ryder plan to get away with the money? Is he really after the ransom or something bigger?

The major difference between the original and this update is that the actors in the original help raise the film to a higher level while the actors in this one do no such thing. John Travolta’s character is in sharp contrast to Robert Shaw’s in the original. He overdoes his part. His mad man act is quite familiar by now and it irritates more than a little. Denzel Washington is a suitable choice and he plays it right but I’d definitely prefer Walter Matthau any day.

Scott (True Romance, Man on Fire, Deja Vu) and writer Brian Helgeland (L. A. Confidential, Mystic River, Man on Fire) have all the ingredients to make a watchable thriller and they do but this one does not distinguish itself from its predecessor much. Scott adds some more action and a laptop with a webcam and internet connectivity to reflect the time but there isn’t much incentive for viewers who have seen the original to drag themselves to watch this.

This isn’t a film that you’d need to run to the theater to watch but it should make for entertaining viewing on a lazy day at home.

P.S. If you don’t mind watching a film from the seventies, the original is a better choice.

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Executive Decision September 9, 2007

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Starring Kurt Russell, Steven Seagal and Halle Berry, this film is a thriller set on an airplane. An Oceanic Airlines flight travelling to Washington is captured by terrorists. They demand the release of their leader. Dr Grant (Kurt Russell) warns the Pentagon officials that the terrorists might be carrying a nerve gas on board, that could take out Washington and warns them against allowing the plane into US airspace. Unable to kill over 400 civilians, they come up with a preposterous plan to take the terrorists down. Under Colonel Travis (Steven Seagal), the mission gets underway. How the team gets on board and overcomes the terrorists forms the rest of the film.

The plot does seem more real after 9/11 but the movie itself has a campy feel today. The special effects seem very tacky after a decade. However, writers Jim and John Thomas (Predator, Behind Enemy Lines) deliver a screenplay that is filled with twists and turns that should appeal to the average viewer despite the adherence to formula. Editor turned director Stuart Baird doesn’t exactly make a slick flick but he manages to keep up the tense atmosphere despite the lack of scope for action sequences. This isn’t a film for great performances (there is quite a bit of hamming here) but Kurt Russell does a decent job while Steven Seagal and Halle Berry are passable. David Suchet (who played Poirot in the television series) is quite a bore as the main antagonist.

This may not be a particularly intelligent film but it is an entertaining film. Recommended for those who can enjoy such thrillers without bothering too much about reality.