Changing tracks with the times

2009-09-28 00:00

DIRECTOR Tony Scott was the epitome of the high concept directors in the eighties. Remember Top Gun, which resulted in the booming sales of Ray-ban sunglasses and increased recruitment for the American military? His films embodied the high gloss, sexy marketing of American popular culture. In fact, the Scotts (his brother is Ridley of Blade Runner fame) with backgrounds in advertising, were responsible for much of the revisioning of the visual styles that pervade mainstream cinema today. The question becomes though, how does time and maturity now inflect his approach to storytelling?

The Taking of Pelham 123 (a remake of a ’70s classic) plays out on the surface as a hostage drama-cum-heist movie set on a train, but the key themes revolve around moral ambiguity. This is now becoming a familiar refrain, even within straightforward American genres where the pure archetypes of the hero and the shadow have been blurred in a global society of porous boundaries. In Pelham 123, Ryder (John Travolta), a devilish ex-con, takes over the Hades of the New York underground metro and proceeds to battle for the soul of Walter Garber (Denzel Washington), a reluctant hostage negotiator. Often bathed in red or ice blue light and captured in the stuttering and fragmented cinematography made popular by Scott, Ryder embodies our frustration with the hypocrisy of our world.

His inner desire is to break Garber, a decent man who may or may not have been tempted to smooth a deal by taking a bribe. Sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it?

Scott has indeed shifted his position in his approach to his stories and herein might lie the frustration of some audience members expecting the plug and play of a familiar genre. The pacing, as always for a Scott film, is intense, but there is no explosive third act. In fact Scott is willing to use deus ex machina, simply explained as the hand of God or fate, to resolve plot points. This is not about twists and turns and intricacy, this is simply a battle between two men caught in a morally ambiguous world. Sitting uneasily in its genre, it’s still an interesting film that resonates with our times.***

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.