Longer Than 2 Second Movie Review: Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3

TakingofAxelFoley123Taking of Pelham, 1, 2, 3 is about this guy that looks like John Travolta who hijacks a train and holds the passengers hostage, turning an innocent MTA Dispatcher who looks like Denzel Washington into a defacto hostage negotiator. And then a lot of stuff happens, they both have secrets, and somebody wins only after having become the sort of person who could win. Blah, blah, blah – to explain further would deny the existence of IMDB.

What’s interesting about it is that somewhere on the way to Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3, Director Tony Scott got interesting again. A comparison between the first Beverly Hills Cop and the sequel has always been my metric for what’s interesting about Tony Scott. While the original Beverly Hills Cop is superior, the sequel answers the question of what the original would look like if it was always sunset, the rooms were smokier and Brigitte Nielsen were in those rooms. I loved Tony Scott, it would be at LEAST a month before I started complaining if I were stuck in the town from Too Wong Foo with only a dvd of The Last Boy Scout.

Rapid music video editing and fake-gritty, Flashdancey photography were the common complaints of Tony Scott’s style, which is actually his charm. You want not-80’s? Go watch Rain Man, it doesn’t feel 80’s at all. Have fun, I’ll be watching Top Gun and thinking about how much easier it is to solve a Rubik’s Cube with Billie Jean on. Just because Beverly Hills Cop II and Cool As Ice are shot similarly, doesn’t make Beverly Hills Cop II suck. I was a fan, but when Tony Scott didn’t show any growth between The Last Boy Scout and The Fan, I tuned out. The Fan felt like The Last Boy Scout of baseball movies made from the guy who made the Top Gun of race car movies.

In 2004’s Man On Fire, Tony Scott decided to make no apologies for his style and instead, blew that style up to 11. Four and Five cameras shoot in as many formats and framerates, and all angles make it to the screen in editing who’s pace is fast, but is no longer dictated by a freeway chase or robbery. Tony Scott embraces his own style and shows how masterful he is with the much maligned techniques now courting more attention while being at the service of something more subtle. Well, subtle compared to The Last Boy Scout. It’s a clash that makes Tony Scott finally become a director of distinctive technique, and legitimate interest.

Take the director of Man on Fire and give him a compact single-location real-time drama similar to Scott’s wonderful Crimson Tide, but with The New York Subway system instead of a Submarine and you’ve got Taking Of Pelham 1, 2, 3. Scott’s new style was forged in some wild and open settings, now the style is compressed into a claustrophobic location to interesting effect. Scott excels, and creates a solid thriller peppered with enough character moments to give the film a little depth and mystery, but not so much that the film forgets what it is. It’s not going to bring your Grandmother out of the coma, but it will certainly distract a grieving family while awaiting her death.

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