I guess Money Train has that so bad its good aspect going for it, especially in regards to Robert Blake’s inane performance but otherwise it’s just another forgettable action piece of the 1990s. In comparison with other buddy comedies, it also falls way short as I didn’t feel the comradery between Snipes and Harrelson and the story never quite gels either as it wasn’t what it was.
Genre(s): Crime, Comedy, Action
Sony | R – 110 min. – $17.97 | May 17, 2011
Directed by: Joseph Ruben
Writer(s): Doug Richardson (story), Doug Richardson and David Loughery (screenplay)
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Lopez, Robert Blake, Chris Cooper
Theatrical Release Date: November 22, 1995
Features: Theatrical Trailer
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 2/5
The buddy cop sub-genre is nothing new and intermixing racial elements between said buddy cops is nothing new either. You had the Lethal Weapon movies in the 1980s and early 90s, 48 HRS during the same period, Rush Hour in the late 90s, and the list goes on. In between it all there was the odd pairing of Wesley Snipes, during his height, and Woody Harrelson when he was on top with the hit series “Cheers”. The two first teamed up in 1992 with White Men Can’t Jump and it was a modest hit raking in over $70 million at the box office, so it wasn’t too hard to believe that in 1995 they would team up again in an action/crime/comedy entitled Money Train which didn’t do all that well yet still has a vocal fan base but for myself having seen this now twice in about a decade, it’s just a bad film through and through.
There are two major reasons why this is a bad film: the first is the nonsensical plot which needed more focus and the second is Woody Harrelson.
In regards to the plot, it should be simple and straight forward as we following transit cops John (WESLEY SNIPES) and Charlie (WOODY HARRELSON) who are brothers from another mother but grew up together at a foster home. John is the more responsible one and a bit of a ladies’ man while Charlie is a compulsive gambler and an all around f**k up; we know this because it’s engrained into the dialogue in seemingly every other scene.
So the two are apparently the best amongst the transit unit… or something and gets a new member to the squad in the form of the sexy Jennifer Lopez playing Gloria Santiago. Of course, both Charlie and John are both interested in Gloria. The duo also run afoul of their jackass with a Napoleon Complex boss Donald Patterson (ROBERT BLAKE) who takes his duties of keeping track of his money train very, very seriously and will protect it at any cost, even human life.
The movie basically unfolds with Charlie messing up by first getting into major debt, to the tune of $15k, after a poker game then John comes through and gives him the cash to pay it off and what happens? On the way over to pay it off, he gets pick-pocketed. Not being able to pay, his and John’s life are in danger if the debt isn’t paid off. In order to pay it off, and to get back at his a-hole boss, Charlie sets forth to try and rob the money train so he and John can be free. Oh, I forgot to mention, Charlie already brought the idea to rob the train to John who rejected the idea, then seemed to dig it before ultimately pooh-poohing it. Any guesses what will happen when Charlie “The F**k Up” tries to rob the train?
You would assume that a movie called Money Train and is supposed to be about robbing said train that a good portion of the film would be devoted to the subject. While indeed the beginning we get to see the money train, know how important it is to their douchebag boss and what assholes the train guards are (blowing away a simple thief) but after that we get some rivalry for the affections of Jenny from the Block, which is fine, yet we don’t see or even get a glimpse at the train. Instead the film turns into why Woody Harrelson’s character is such a screw up, him trying to own up but managing to mess up even more and in the process becoming more annoying. I know all of it was to lead up to him robbing the train and while that sequence is indeed exciting and probably blew its entire budget on that one sequence.
Performances wise, there’s also nothing new from this cast. Wesley Snipes was still the actor who looked like he was trying performing some fun, albeit obvious, stunts; Robert Blake was over-the-top because the script makes no mystery that he’s the bad guy (very 1980s); Jennifer Lopez is the sexy chick who brings that Bronx attitude and beauty though her character is fairly bland; and then there is Woody Harrelson who is unintentionally the funniest because when the movie opens, he’s working undercover playing a drunk and did a fine job of it yet later on when he really was drunk, it came across as clichéd meaning his fake drunkenness was more believable than the real drunkenness… Nitpicky for sure, but it’s the one thing in an otherwise bad movie that stood out.
Oh, and I almost forgot about the subplot involving Chris Cooper playing a pyromaniac who liked seeing people get burned. It was yet another diversion of the plot feeling like two different movies. This portion took up part of the second act and wasn’t bad but had more potential (it also inspired copycats, one which cost the life of a toll booth operator).
I have to assume that Money Train was sitting on the bottom of writer’s Doug Richardson’s drawer since he found success with Die Hard 2 (an acceptable sequel) and Bad Boys which made a movie star out of Will Smith. He has since been the man behind Welcome to Mooseport which has the distinction of being Gene Hackman’s final movie before retiring and the 2005 Bruce Willis thriller, Hostage.
The film was directed by Joseph Ruben who also helmed 1977’s Joyride, 1987’s The Stepfather, The Good Son and The Forgotten.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0.5/5
No surprise, but all we get is the Theatrical Trailer (2:30; HD).
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Money Train is presented in 1080p high-definition and 2.39 aspect ratio (the back cover incorrectly states it is 1.85) and much like the transfer for Random Hearts, another Sony Pictures release via Image Entertainment, looked pretty darn good not only for its age but as a whole. The detail level is quite good throughout for sure but there is a fine amount of natural film grain and noise that only added to the level of detail. Colors were also well balanced without going overboard or pumped up to make the HD transfer look better.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio track is well done with a wide array to test the audio track. First, you’ve got clear dialogue levels coming through the center channel, some ambient noises/voices coming through the front channels and the action sequences, especially during the end, gives the track that extra boom you want out of an action movie.
OVERALL – 2.25/5
Overall, I guess Money Train has that so bad its good aspect going for it, especially in regards to Robert Blake’s inane performance but otherwise it’s just another forgettable action piece of the 1990s. In comparison with other buddy comedies, it also falls way short as I didn’t feel the comradery between Snipes and Harrelson and the story never quite gels either as it wasn’t what it was.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.