THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123 (2009)
Having not worked the obsession with car ramping out of his system during the pointless car chase scenes in Deja Vu, Tony now attempts an even greater amount of incidental vehicular destruction.
Oh, wait, I’m sorry; There is a point to this. The police caravan is trying to deliver ransom money to the hijackers before time runs out. “Why didn’t we send a helicopter?”, one of the characters asks. No answer is provided.
Nothing about this movie is well thought out. The casting is bad. Denzel’s character is supposed to be an ordinary schlub, and John Travolta’s character is a prison-hardened badass; Certainly wouldn’t be my first choice for either role. Since most of the movie involves these two characters just talking over a radio, you need a director who can do subtle dialogue very well. They chose Tony Scott.
They should’ve cast Michael Douglas as the baddie; This is essentially Wall Street meets Falling Down. Too on the nose, maybe? Oliver Stone has done action movies, and the film Talk Radio, so he’s one I would have thought of immediately. And Stephen Tobolowsky in the Denzel role. Hey, it’s my fantasy, I can cast who I want!
But really; Why make this movie? The original is great, and this adds nothing to the mix. The best I can say is that Helgeland writes good tough guy dialogue, but he’s wasting his talents here.
6 out of 10
ROBIN HOOD (2010)
Speaking of Brian Helgeland; He basically cannibalized his movie A Knight’s Tale for this, what with the commoners passing as nobility and Mark Addy as the comic relief fatty. Throw a little Sommersby in there and you’ve got, um, Robin Hood.
There are plenty of legitimate reasons to hate on this film, but the most common one I’m seeing, and one that I can’t get behind, seems to be the hatred of anyone doing anything conceptually different from the traditional Robin Hood story. Why? So we can see Robin running around in green tights for the 500th time, going through a mental checklist as events unfold? “Yep, there’s the fight with Little John on the log. Check. Splits the arrow in twine. Double check.”. The Errol Flynn version is still around; We don’t need a knee-jerk reaction every time someone tries something a little different. “Hey! Robin Hood isn’t a fucking fox!”.
That being said; There is a lot of strangeness to this story. It’s really the origin story of Robin Hood, before he steals from the rich yadda yadda. That’s all fine and dandy (Though it does lack a lot of the derring-do you might expect), but why would you cast Russell Crowe in the lead? Not to sound ageist, but he’s old as fuck. This ain’t Robin and Marion, Ridley Scott!
And while the characters are generally made to feel more “realistic”, the villains remain highly cartoonish. Mark Strong can do menacing in his sleep, but his character is so underdeveloped that they should have just given him a t-shirt that says “Evil” on it. King John is totally silly, although I guess that’s become pretty standard with Hood movies.
Kevin Durand is fun as Little John, as are the rest of the Merry Men. Russell is good as always, despite his miscasting. And the immortal Max Von Sydow is a welcome sight in any film.
The climax is rushed and odd (Wait, when did Robin become a patriot? Is Maid Marion in full battle armor, leading an army of children?), and it sets itself up for a sequel that, most likely, will never be made. All that taken into account, I don’t think this is the disaster that people are making it out to be. It’s beautiful to look at, there are some nice little moments, and Scott fans should enjoy it for it’s own merits.
7 out of 10