Better Than Expected

“Hotshots” looks at a movie!

The Taking of Pelham 123 - Movie PosterTHE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3 is a remake of the 1974 film of the same name but with different spelling, and it has been updated with new technology and financial conditions, as well as with the whiz-bang visual techniques of director Tony Scott.

Denzel Washington plays the Walter Matthau role of Walter Garber, a temporary dispatcher of New York City Transit, and John Travolta plays the Robert Shaw role of a man named Ryder, who leads a team of four hijackers of a subway train.

When Garber first talks to Ryder to ask why the train stopped, Ryder says, “This is the man who’s going to give the City a run for its money.”

After some quick and obviously phony calculations, Ryder demands $10 million and one cent in cash in exactly one hour, or else he will start killing one of the 19 passenger hostages for every minute that the money is late.

James Gandolfini plays the mayor, who gets involved when he has to authorize the payment of the ransom, and we get an awful lot of preliminary setup shots followed by an awful lot of talk, plus the flashy visuals of the police racing to transport the money downtown to where the subway car is waiting.

Garber’s boss tells Garber to go home and let the official hostage negotiator from the police take over, which is fine with Garber, because he has had the dispatching job only a couple of weeks. But when Ryder learns that Garber is gone, he shoots the motorman and demands that Garber be brought back for the negotiations.

If you are not familiar with the story, at this point you might start to wonder What’s the suspense? Well, the suspense is in whether the hijackers are going to succeed or fail, depending on which side you are rooting for.

So, essentially we have a weak story with very good execution and exceptionally fine acting, especially by Travolta, who naturally has the showier part.

Garber and Ryder eventually even get to meet face to face when Ryder demands that the dispatcher come underground with the money for reasons we don’t learn until afterwards.

Then we get an exciting ending that we didn’t anticipate.

THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3 is better than expected or deserves to be.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”