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One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to write at least 100 words about every movie I saw, but I’ve been doing it on the message boards because blog entries don’t really lend themselves to film discussion. The following was originally posted in the Taking of the Pelham 123 Post-Release thread.

The Law Of Travolta Facial Hair states that if Travolta has facial hair in an action movie it’s going to be shit. Battlefield Earth, Swordfish, From Paris With Love, and The Taking of the Pelham 123 prove this law. This law isn’t foolproof, though, because he’s clean shaven in Punisher. I have mathematicians working on this as we speak.

What the fuck is that mustache?

What the fuck is that mustache?

The whole movie feels like Tony Scott thought the original was boring, but decided to remake it anyway. Tony Scott apparently finds a lot boring. Like conversations between characters, which are all shot with big swooping pans and unnecessary zooming. He finds the hostages and their situation boring, deciding to ignore the intensity and fear of their situation. He also finds the way the world looks boring, instead choosing to turn up the contrast and turn everything a sickening shade of yellow green. I once joked that Domino should have been renamed “When Color Correction Goes Bad” but then you’d have to rename nearly all of Tony Scott’s movies that, and people wouldn’t know which Tony Scott movie you were calling a piece of shit in casual conversation.

Fucking Green-Ass Bullshit

He also finds human characters boring. What made the original Pelham so great was how little moments like Walter Matthau leading the Japanese businessmen around the station, or bits of dialogue between Shaw and Martin Balsam really cemented these characters as real people. Scott’s not interested in that shit, and if there’s any backstory on any character at all, it’s to clumsily pad the running time of the movie with extra plot. They tried to maybe hint that Travolta’s character was gay, but that doesn’t go anywhere. There’s no real depth at all to him, and his character comes across more like an entitled seven-grader, yelling at his mom who didn’t get him the right PS3 for his birthday. The only character who I really related to in any meaningful way was James Gandolfini as the mayor of NYC. I found it really interesting that they made him the most sympathetic character in the film. Gandolfini should do more character acting than he does.

Which brings me to the word motherfucker. The way I see it, motherfucker is like a broadsword. It’s a powerful and awe-inspiring verbal weapon, but if you aren’t strong enough to wield it confidently, it just makes you look weak and silly. When saying motherfucker your knees can not buckle. Your arms can not shake. It’s why white people generally don’t sound as good saying it as black people, though, like anything, there are certainly exceptions. The point to all this is that John Travolta cannot say motherfucker to save his life. He says it nearly a dozen times in this movie, and it’s always distracting.

I watched this last night and fell asleep, missing the last 15 minutes. When I rewatched them today, I found I didn’t really miss anything at all.