The Taking of Pelham 123.
When we got inside the theater, I noticed that something was a little... off. The lights were down, and the screen displayed a cute little 3D animation featuring some baby-making clouds and a stork. I stared at it strangely for a while, thinking to myself 'There's no way this is Pelham.' Sure enough, at the end of the cartoon, the word 'Pixar' showed at the bottom of the screen. I got up and told the usher that they were playing the wrong film. The management gave us all free passes, which was neat.
Anyway, Pelham 123 was a decent movie. I can't really say it was good, because you would expect more from a film with this much star power. Denzel Washington, John Travolta, James Gandolfini, John Turturro, and Luis Guzman. These men are all fine actors, and they have elevated the craft of acting over the years. But somehow, this movie falls flat. Which certainly is through no fault of the actors.
The film is shot in classic Tony Scott style. Quick cuts. Shaky camera movements. And some weird edits that make you wonder if he is feeling the aftereffects of a bad LSD trip. But I love his movies, and I don't think Scott is to blame either.
I feel that the script was lackluster. The writing just seemed too concise. Everything fit together so simply and became very predictable. Even the moments of shock, which there were a few, were too predictable (you don't send a man home who was just told by a terrorist that he considers him a friend. That's not smart negotiating.)
A big, annoying part of this movies centered around the definition of 'terrorists.' Too many times, Travolta's characters asked his gang, 'Are we really terrorists?' Yes, you are. You are holding a train full of passengers hostage, causing terror. Terrorists. The fact that you are demanding money for their release is irrelevant. You are terrorists.
See? Where's the debate?
I don't regret seeing The Taking of Pelham 123. It was an enjoyable way to pass an afternoon. But it is one of those movies that, three years from now, someone will mention in some obscure way and you will say to yourself, 'Yeah, I did see that movie.'
And at least I got to see it for free.