The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) – 4/5

Pretty good action heist type film with an almost obscene amount of goofy humor thrown in that feels somewhat inappropriate given the seriousness of the plot. I thought the presence of Walter Matthau in this was his attempt at doing a serious movie, but no, he’s in this as comic relief, which, as the main character in an otherwise serious crime film where people are getting beaten and killed, is odd to say the least. Still, it works, mostly.

The biggest issue I guess is the story. It’s very engaging and suspenseful, but it’s incomplete at times, like the whole ridiculous subplot with the mayor that **SPOILERS** just ends without any kind of closure. At all. What happened? Did the writer run out of ideas and just hope no one would notice? **END SPOILERS**I realize it was played for laughs, but it’s poorly written and annoying and didn’t fit with the rest of the movie.

And the film is full of silly, ridiculous stuff like this that are borderline slapstick and simply don’t belong. Some of it is funny, but some of it just feels wrong, as though from a different movie entirely. Maybe all the humor was put in to contrast with the grim nature of the criminals, specifically our “main” antagonist, the British guy, who doesn’t so much as smile once throughout the film. Not for the same jovial and humorous reasons as Matthau, at least. And what an unexpected treat to see yet another actor mostly known for his comedic roles, Jerry Stiller, Ben Stiller’s father, in this, looking almost exactly the same then as he does now. Famous people just do not age.

Overall, yeah, good film; I enjoyed it. It’s pretty straight forward and suspenseful and interesting. A touch overrated though as it’s little more than your typical heist flick, with an above average amount of goofy humor in it that sometimes takes too much away from the main plot. Oh, and, unsurprisingly, Tarantino seems to have stolen a certain element from this movie that he then inserted directly into Reservoir Dogs. Watch this movie to find out what. It’s pretty obvious. Damn hack.

Anyway, yeah, worth watching if you’re into heist movies, or humor, or the weird combination thereof.

 

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