I’ve given up agonizing over Tony Scott’s remake of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three; if it’s got to happen, I’d rather have a master stylist at the helm than an inveterate muddler like Andrzej Bartkowiak. And since there’s no point trying to track down “a modern day Walter Matthau”, you might as well go the movie star route with Denzel Washington and John Travolta. As far as I’m concerned, the only way this movie stands a chance is if Joseph Sargent’s original is never once referenced (not even in passing with a Hector Elizondo, Tony Roberts or Jerry Stiller cameo).
Thankfully, the just-announced casting of James Gandolfini as the Mayor of New York City leads me to believe that Scott and screenwriter David Koepp are headed in a completely different direction; though he’s got more range than one might think, there’s no way they’d go with Gandolfini if they were simply going to replicate Lee Wallace’s weak-willed incompetent from Joseph Sargent’s classic (as if New Yorkers would ever elect such a pitiful creature after 9/11). Of course, maybe Scott just wants Gandolfini around as a good luck charm, since the actor’s appeared in the director’s two most accomplished films: True Romance and Crimson Tide. Or, given that he’s also added Gbenga “Chris Partlow” Akinnagbe, maybe he’s just casting folks from his favorite HBO shows.
Tony Scott’s The Taking of Pelham 123 is currently scheduled for a 2009 release. If you haven’t seen the original, remedy that immediately (and don’t bother with the so-so TV remake).