MONEY TRAIN (1995)

Money Train - Wesley Snipes - Woody Harrelson

 

Directed By: Jospeh Ruben
Written By: Doug Richardson & David Loughery
Story By: Doug Richardson
Cinematography By: John W. Lindley
Editor: George Bowers & Bill Pankow 


Cast: Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Lopez, Robert Blake, Chris Cooper, Skip Sudduth, Bill Nunn, Joe Grifasi, Larry Gillard Jr., Vincent Pastore, Aida Turturro, Vincent Laresca 


Two foster brothers work as transit cops. While one’s life is as good as it gets, the other’s is a pit. After losing his job, getting dumped by his brother, and getting the crap kicked out of him by a loan shark for the umpteenth time, He implements his plan to steal the “money train,” a train carrying the New York Subway’s weekly revenue. But when things go awry, will his brother be able to save him in time?

This film seems like it was made to try to rekindle the magic of it’s main stars from WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP. As well as the box office. Which it does do successfully. As the chemistry is still there. Though this film isn’t as good or well written as their previous film. It still manages to be funny and have action sequences. That are supposed to be thrilling, but come off as more fun. Which seems to be because the two stars are obviously having fun reuniting and bring a kind of goofy energy to the film. Which helps keep the film afloat as the audience rolls their eyes at the story and some of the situations.

The film also cast’s Jennifer Lopez as their partner/Love Interest one of her first big roles. As it seems the producers must have thought Rosie Perez was expendable and not part of the group Package. As it is obviously out she is a replacement. Not that Ms. Lopez does bad here, It’s a nice debut, but she seems more relegated to being eye candy. Which Ms. Perez could have done, but is usually known more for either being dramatic or comedic and not necessarily the bombshell. Though her appearance might have infused this film as more of a reunion.

This seems like a random script chosen or rewritten to combine the magic in the pairing. While also having the buddy cop dynamic. While not getting to the heights of their previous film. This film is different, yet still fun.

As the actor seem Like they are having fun. While going through the motions and it becomes infectious for the audience.

The heist part of the film is inevitable, but is actually the least interesting part of the film. As more a means to an end. As the first two thirds of the film play up the more comedic aspects. That once in awhile feels the need to remind you it is supposed to be an action film also, so we have an action sequence. The film tries to make it seem natural and more just another aspect of their job. Though at times it seems jarring. As a lot of the times the plot seems to take a backseat to scenes of them riffing and not as important to the camaraderie and comedic scenes. As Both stars are adept at both. Though Woody Harrelson never went the full action route in his career.

Though it also tries to have a romantic rivalry situation thrown Into the mix. So we have all these tops spinning all at once. So when one runs out of speed we go back to another. Which also helps he audience to not forget these aspects. Though the love triangle seems more played up for the movies sake, then any logical reason other then to be a plot point that helps motivate actions later in the film.

Though Robert Blake’s character just seems so over the top and ridiculous. More broad and cliche. Like he came out of another film, but fits the generic quality of films inspirations. His character is just an ill fit. As Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes inhabit their characters with enough camaraderie and medic timing. That they ooze with charisma and have their own rhythms that everyone else seems to go along with, except for Robert Blake’s character. His character just seems so unlikeable you can see why anyone would hate him and want to steal from him. He makes an odd jagged fit.

I admire the film for trying to be a more New York type of film and it seems somewhat authentic as it looks mostly filmed on location and catches the time period well. It’s not the gritty type of cop caper of the 70’s actually far from it. But the film seems to have an authentic type of New York attitude. While being a bit scrubbed and shiny. That New York used to have. Yet is quickly disappearing.

The film isn’t necessarily directed with as much grace and charm. One would expect from director Joseph Ruben. This isn’t a film that seems naturally part of his wheelhouse as he tries to show his range as a director. Though this film Leaves little room for subtlety and corns off as shiny and clunky, but decently made. He does what he can with the material he is given.

So who do you get to direct the reunion of Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson in an action comedy, why of course the director of the thrillers THE GOOD SON and THE STEPFATHER. In all good humor Joseph Rueben does an adequate job with the film though it is a strange match. As he was a replacement for Tony Scott (THE LAST BOYSCOUT) who helped develop the project with screenwriter Doug Richardson. Who was fired once Ruben took over the film and had the script Re-written.

This movie feels if trying to sell a premise to an audience almost a greatest hits of things they have seen before only not knowing it until near the ends, Something instantly familiar without much explanation and nothing really at stake.

GRADE: C+

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