Armed men hijack a New York City subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day's work for dispatcher Walter Garber into a face-off with the mastermind behind the crime.
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In early afternoon, four armed men hijack a subway train in Manhattan. They stop on a slight incline, decoupling the first car to let the rest of the train coast back. Their leader is Ryder; he connects by phone with Walter Garber, the dispatcher watching that line. Garber is a supervisor temporarily demoted while being investigated for bribery. Ryder demands $10 million within an hour, or he'll start shooting hostages. He'll deal only with Garber. The mayor okays the payoff, the news of the hostage situation sends the stock market tumbling, and it's unclear what Ryder really wants or if Garber is part of the deal. Will hostages, kidnappers, and negotiators live through this? Written by
A surprisingly enjoyable and tense thriller. While it does have a good bit of the kind of silly excess that ruins most summer blockbuster movies anymore, those flaws are overshadowed by the tightly-wound script and a couple of good performances from Denzel Washington and John Travolta. Director Tony Scott seems to have spent a good bit of effort trying to channel the spirit of 1970's American movies, and often this pays dividends as the focus on grittiness over spectacular action sequences ups the suspense. It's interesting that as the movie approaches the end you can feel the director's 21st century comic-book instincts straining against the genre he's working in as the story becomes increasingly less believable and more "heroic."
Nevertheless I can recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a suspenseful action movie that doesn't beat you over the head with histrionics from beginning to end. Admittedly I've never seen the original, and I can easily imagine those who love it might be substantially less enthusiastic about this remake.
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