Saturday, April 24, 2010

Taking of Pelham 123

Who could have thought that one of the sexiest things would be to hear Denzel Washington and John Travolta talk to each other on the phone? After all, they are just two middle-aged men, putting on weight, with one of them an ornery official in the New York Metro heirarchy and the other a man holding 17 Metro travellors hostage.

But there you are.

When things go right in a film where everything is going wrong, its a privilege to peep into what is going on in the hearts and minds of its protoganists.

And straightaway what could just be a thriller gets elevated into a psycho-drama of a cat and a mouse, or maybe, as it transpires, two cats.

The drama of a subway train being taken over for ransom is just a sly bare-bone structure on which the story of the greed of an entire city hinges. If Travolta uses a kidnapping to raise money, in more ways than one, Denzel, the hero, is under investigation for taking a bribe. And the Mayor is one who takes one dollar as his salary but wears the most expensive suits possible. And his greatest regret is he didn't anticipate the collapse in the stock exchange because of the kidnapping, otherwise he could have made some money out of it.

So here is a world where every protoganist is morally compromised, whatever the compulsion.

The action scenes in the entrails of the earth, or up on the roads are well executed and bristle with a fine tension. But the finest scenes are reserved for when the two protoganists clash. The scene where Travolta drives Denzel towards a confession, could well be the most compulsive. And when they finally meet, the screen bristles with what could well be, well, pent- up passion!!

Its easy to compare or/and criticize the previous film with this one. But both are films made in different eras, and this version does well to be inclusive in its recognition of a world which is morally grey, and where that guy carrying a pound of milk home, could be a great father and also a person who has accepted a bribe.

And that is where Taking of Pelham 123 takes your breath away.

~ Sunil
September 7th, 2009
Sent on my BlackBerry