Out now on DVD is The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3, an action-packed remake of the 1974 thriller starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw, which falls back on the slam-bang, slow motion set-pieces that have become director Tony Scott's trademark.
In the noughties version, Denzel Washington plays Walter Garber, a dispatcher in the busy transit control centre, which monitors the progress of trains on the New York City subway system.
Tragedy strikes as a long, uneventful day turns into a nightmare – criminal mastermind Ryder (John Travolta) and his associates Phil (Luis Guzman) and Bashkim (Victor Gojcaj) hold a carriage full of terrified commuters hostage and demand a $10 million ransom for their safe release. The mayor (James Gandolfini) and his deputy (Benjamin Hickey) have just one hour to find the money.
As a result, Walter reluctantly accepts the role of hostage negotiator, conversing with Ryder via the train's two-way radio system, while lead police investigator Camonetti (John Turturro) tries to delay paying the ransom.
Unfortunately, the testosterone-fuelled revamp lacks the tension of the original film, keeping the two leads apart for more than an hour as Ryder and Walter spar verbally over the radio.
Washington essays yet another likable working man, albeit one accused of taking bribes from a Japanese train manufacturer, keeping everything low-key. His transformation into gun-toting action man strains credibility, not that the rest of Scott's film has much to begin with. Washington's non-performance is in stark contrast to Travolta, overacting wildly as the ex-con with eye-catching facial fuzz.
If Harry Gregson-Williams's robust orchestral score doesn't keep viewers awake, a subterranean gun fight, runaway train and spectacular car crash certainly will, building to a showdown on Manhattan Bridge that is an anti-climax.
- Out now on DVD from Dh65
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