Monday, April 13, 2009

Overlooked (but for how long?): T.O.P. 1 2 3

The whole remake thing is kind of confusing.

On one hand -- WHAT ARE THEY DOING TO MY MOVIE?!?!?! On the other, maybe the remake will bring attention to the (almost certainly better) original.

Here's hoping the latter happens this June, when Tony Scott (ugh) offers his version (numbers in the title instead of words, of course) of the 1974 subway hijacker flick The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, one whose name* probably isn't known by many young people today (except maybe Beastie Boys fans).

*It must be mentioned that this is based on a book. So *technically* this year's version could be viewed as an "adaptation" instead of a "remake." However, I'm guessing the new film wasn't inspired by a trip to Borders.

Now for more guessing, based solely on the trailer and Scott's history: Something tells me the new version won't be quite like the old one.

What makes the original so memorable is not just its grabber of a plot, in which Walter Matthau (who morphs into Denzel Washington for 2009) is a transit cop negotiating with/tracking a group of subway train hijackers led by Robert Shaw (who is as composed in the '74 verson as John Travolta appears to be over-the-top maniacal in '09).

No, what makes T.O.P. 1 2 3 is that it's so damn funny*.

*It even has Frank Costanza!

Yeah, it's definitely not PC. It's edgy. There's racism and sexism here, but it's not like it's condoning that sort of thing. Just acknowledging that it, like so many other '70s-era NYC quirks, exists. Really, the T.O.P. 1 2 3's gritty realism and crackling dialogue embodies everything that's great about the better examples of 1970s filmmaking*.

*No doubt Quentin Tarantino noticed; the hijackers give each other names like Mr. Blue and Mr. Green, just as they do in Reservoir Dogs.

And that music ...

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