I have to admit that going into this movie I was not expecting anything great. The reviews were mixed, and I saw it the second weekend, having already listened to several podcasts discussing the film. However, I tend to really enjoy Tony Scott's hyper stylized film making, especially his films from the nineties, including True Romance, Crimson Tide, and Enemy of the State. Lately I've been a little more tepid about his films, while still enjoying Domino and Man on Fire. The fact that The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is a remake probably had something to do with my reluctance to see this film, since quality Hollywood remakes are a rare breed.
The story is a simple train hijacking, with a cat and mouse game between the negotiator and the head criminal, in this case played elegantly and elaborately by Denzel Washington and John Travolta, respectively. As much as I like certain films by each of the actors involved, this collaboration, which includes John Turturro, Luis Guzman, and James Gandolfini, was the ultimate generic, big name Hollywood cast. Denzel was good, but no one stole the show. Travolta definitely tried, and while over the top, his performance evoked flashes of Face/Off (one of my favorite action movies).
In the end, this was a moderately entertaining, but thoroughly mediocre popcorn flick. Tony Scott's style is all over this movie, but much of the action is either borderline ridiculous (the driving scenes) or underwhelming. If you're a tony Scott fan, or just an action movie buff, you should see this movie, just keep your expectations low. It worked for me.