, John Travolta, James Gandolfini | R | [
In a lovely tip of its hat to the 1974 original Pelham, this crackling remake names its hero after Walter Matthau, the grumpy star of the still fondly regarded first movie. Washington, who shares a fundamental Everyman appeal with Matthau as well as an ability to tease the humor out of any situation, beautifully plays New York City subway dispatcher Walter Garber. He just happens to be on the other end of the line when a hijacker (Travolta, doing his wicked best) radios in to say that he and his helpers have seized a train, are holding 18 passengers hostage at gunpoint and want $10 million delivered in 60 minutes flat or they will start killing hostages.
Director Tony Scott (Man on Fire) keeps the film moving with the speed of an express train, effectively deploying graphics and pop-up maps to help viewers follow as Garber works hard to keep the hijacker calm and the mayor (Gandolfini) and police swing into action. But what really makes Pelham tick is the way all involved—right down to a rat on the subway tracks—react with that mix of toughness, cynicism and paranoia that is uniquely New York. All aboard.
Eddie Murphy, Yara Shahidi | PG |
After Eddie Murphy's recent run of lousy kids' movies, this appealing comedy is a pleasant surprise. Murphy is a workaholic money manager who gets in touch with his inner child after his young daughter (Shahidi) passes along profitable investment tips from her posse of imaginary pals. Soon, he is enthusiastically joining her in making believe, and in the process learning to be a more attentive dad. Kids will love Murphy dancing, singing and mugging, while chaperoning adults will be amused by the antics of a preening work rival (Thomas Haden Church) who, claiming he's part Indian, wields Native American schtick as a club.
Sam Rockwell | R |
DAVID BOWIE'S SON!
Astronaut Sam Bell (Rockwell, in a sharply etched turn) has spent three years solo in a space station on the moon, his only friend a robot named Gerty (solicitously voiced by Kevin Spacey). But life in space soon takes a bizarre turn in an intriguing first film by director Duncan Jones, the son of—cosmic karma!—Ziggy Stardust himself, David Bowie. (Jones sensibly dropped his childhood name, Zowie Bowie.)
>PULP FICTION (1994) His hilarious turn as a gabby killer (left) rightly reignited Travolta's slumping career.
BROKEN ARROW (1996) His nasty sneer was so gleeful, he almost had us rooting for his terrorist villain.
FACE/OFF (1997) Travolta (right, with Nicolas Cage) toggled between good and evil personas with virtuoso flair in a baroque thriller.
>• The actress, 32, goes from Pushing Daisies to fighting dinos in Land of the Lost.
DAISIES JUST ENDED. WHAT WILL YOU MISS MOST? The happiness. I never played a character that was so happy all the time. That tends to affect you. And [costar] Lee Pace. We'll get on the phone and talk for hours.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE TV SHOW AS A KID? Everyone wanted to be Wonder Woman. I had Wonder Woman pajamas and spilled red nail polish all over them. I was distraught. I disrespected her!