‘When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.’ So says reporter Maxwell Scott (Carleton Young) in 1962 western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and it’s advice that American writer-director Brian Helgeland (the Oscar-winning screenwriter of LA Confidential) has applied to his biopic of gangster twins Ronnie and Reggie Kray, who ran roughshod over London’s East End during the 50s and 60s.
New to DVD and Blu-ray on January 11 is Tony Scott’s energetic remake of heist thriller The Taking of Pelham 123, which pits Denzel Washington and John Travolta in a psychological game of wits as a transport worker and train-jacker respectively.
In the press notes for Tony Scott’s garish remake of the 1974 heist classic The Taking of Pelham 123 – itself adapted from the novel by John Godey – screenwriter Brian Helgeland states that his version gets under the skin of its central characters far more than either the original film or novel. To suggest that your adaptation may be better that its source is a bold statement indeed, and it’s immediately clear that Helgeland is way overstating the achievement of the film in character development. For while Denzel Washington’s performance showcases his usual, dependable breadth of human emotion, Travolta’s characterisation is about as deep and meaningful as a box of bricks.