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Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Retro Review: Money Train (1995)

Money Train
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Lopez, Robert Blake, Chris Cooper
Genre: Action
U.S Box Office Gross: over $35 million

Plot: A vengeful New York City transit cop decides to steal a trainload of subway fares. His foster brother, a fellow cop, tries to protect him

'I'd Rather Not Get Onboard This Train'

Money Train is so lacklustre, uninspired and a poor excuse for an action film, but for a few action scenes, it is completely empty as Joseph Ruben resorts to replicating Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson's charms in White Men Can't Jump, but this time as a foster- brother pairing of transit cops going undercover and busting pickpocket crooks. They are both orphans who grew up in the same house. Along the way, there is a love-triangle rivalry that develops between themselves and an attractive female cop, played by J-Lo.

Set during Christmas time, cop Charlie (Woody Harrelson), who is also a compulsive gambler, has plans to rob the money train, which carries all of the cash, each night and it is up to John (Wesley Snipes) to decide where to aid his brother in his scheme, or to foil his attempts.

The action set pieces come across as laboured and dull and not as exciting as they should have been in this so-called heist fest and at almost 2 hrs long, with most of them that will have avid action movie fans rolling their eyes & the film's pacing drags, making it cumbersome viewing. It starts off well, but then for 40 mins little of interest happens within the film. Even with Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, who were big stars at the time and Jennifer Lopez attempting to stamp her mark in her first full feature film, Money Train just doesn't have much going for it and a large chunk of the film focuses on the love triangle saga. Lopez's Grace appears, but then suddenly come to the third act, she is gone for the remainder of the film onwards, only to return towards the end. The bouncing back-&-forth conversions become convoluted and drawn out and most of what Snipes' and Harrelson's banter is just not entertaining. The remaining characters are throwaway with the primary villain, a so-called arsonist creep going by the acronym of The Torch, futile, and the film doesn't manage to hit its stride; unlike say, Speed, it never truly explodes in a huge way and one doesn't truly feel for the main characters.

Joseph Ruben who gave us the almost laughable, Sleeping With The Enemy with Julia Roberts and the mixed bag child killing thriller, The Good Son, is yet again out of his depth, sadly. Or be it fails to inject any depth and wit into Money Train and thus in his first action film outing, it eventually descends into standard B-movie fare. The film's fatal error is that running at nearly 1hr 50 mins, the main bad guy is killed off an hr earlier into the film and with that, Charlie and John have no one to compete against and it has nothing else left to keep the momentum going.

Money Train is terribly bland and for an action-centric film, it is labelled as, in fact, this turns out to be anything but that. Instead of capitalising on the success of White Men Can't Jump, Money Train fails to test Wesley Snipes and Woody Snipes, with the sibling rivalry that doesn't explode and with that, their efforts are gone to waste.

Final Verdict:

Suffice to say, Money Train is a train version of 1994's Speed, only strip away all of Speed's best bits and replace them with tired, bloated, mundane scenes, tedium melodrama and overly talky dialogue and nothing onscreen chemistry. Despite Snipes, Harrelson and Lopez, it feels uneven. After the main bad guy dies, any potential and chance for Money Train to redeem itself is gone out of the window, or be it out of the train's window, completely.

This train has been derailed.


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