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it's times like this I like to reflect on my Battlefield Earth days...good times...good times...


Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Luis Guzman, John Turturro, James Gandolfini

Garber: So, what, this is just about money?
Ryder: Oh, is there anything else?
There’s not dying.
Ryder: Yeah, well you know you live, you die, you either go with the current or you fight it.  We all end up at the same place.
Garber: Where’s that, Jersey?
Ryder: Yeah, you watch it I was born there man.

A group of men, led by Ryder (Travolta), hijack a subway train car and hold a group of people hostage in a subway tunnel.  Walter Garber (Washington) is the dispatcher who takes the initial call and must negotiate with the gunmen who are asking for $10 million.

When I first heard this movie was coming out and saw that the original version was available on-demand, I decided to check it out.  I enjoyed the original very much, but I just knew this remake would probably feature a lot more action, rapid editing, and a gun wielding action hero, rather than the more subdued, intellectual character that Walter Matthau played in the original.

Well, now that I’ve seen the remake, I can say that I was correct.  This is what you get when you take a good movie, punch up the script with more violence and hand it to the undisputed heavy weight champion of over-editing, Tony Scott.  He has become a parody of himself.  Is this really what audiences want?  Non-stop wooshes and jolting music, jumping from one half-second shot to another?  It’s headache inducing.

Washington and Travolta are alright, but Travolta is a little over the top, and Washington is just doing the same character he’s played time and time again.  How does such a good actor get stuck playing so many similar characters?  Out of Time, Man on Fire, John Q, Inside Man, Deja Vu…the list goes on and on.  I thought James Gandolfini, as the mayor, did a pretty good job of adding some interesting touches to an otherwise peripheral character.

If I had never seen the original, I would probably have thought slightly higher of this movie, but I just can’t help but compare them.  The original is much wittier and grounded in realism.  This one is all about atmosphere, violence, and Travolta’s scenery chewing performance.  Plus, they couldn’t just have Washington do his job and match wits with Travolta.  They had to get him behind the wheel of a truck in a high-speed chase, with a gun in hand.

Basically, this movie is unnecessary.  It doesn’t improve on the original or bring anything new or interesting to it.  It just tries to make it more modern, and in the process makes it less watchable.  The original focused on the script and the characters.  This one focuses on the directing/editing and the acting.

Stick with the original.

Re-making good movies is pointless.

10 – 2 way over-edited and over-atmosphered – .5 for Travolta’s overacting – 1.5 for all the dumb, unecessary changes from the original = 6.0