John Travolta can't say "fuck" anymore. When Quentin Tarantino pulled Travolta out of the old-actors junkyard, dusted him off, and tossed him on the big screen in 1994's Pulp Fiction, his usage of the fuck-word seemed bold and fresh. But 15 years later, now that Travolta's become everybody's least favorite creepy uncle, he's lost his cussing mojo. Travolta swears all over the remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, and all his "motherfuckers" sound lame, like he's an alien who doesn't understand the concept behind the word. His weird, halfhearted portrayal of a villain is the worst thing about this very bad movie.
When I say that this movie is everything wrong with Hollywood, I don't necessarily mean that it's the worst movie of all time. Denzel Washington, James Gandolfini (hilariously portraying the outgoing mayor of New York City), Luis Guzmán, and John Turturro all perform their roles—working schlubs of one sort or another—with a certain amount of stable professionalism: good actors doing their jobs, portraying good (but sullied) men doing their jobs. But there was no reason to remake the original film, with its still-bold David Shire score and Walter Matthau's rumpled dignity holding the whole thing together, and there was especially no reason to make it measurably worse.
The bland score, insipid plot, and Oliver-Stone-on-stupid-pills direction (with no cut seemingly longer than 15 seconds or shot on the same film stock as the previous shot) is nothing new for a Tony Scott film, but the dialogue ("He can lick my bumhole, motherfucker" and "We all owe God a death, and I'm a man who pays his debt") rots as soon as it falls out of the actors' mouths. There's no justifiable reason to watch this film over the original. Seriously, fuck this shit, motherfucker.