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Money Train bad emulsion of emotion and action


Directed by Joseph Ruben.

Starring Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes.

Sony Cheri.

By Benjamin Self

Most action movies realize they are not going to be taken seriously and do not even try to reach their audiences emotionally. Directed by Joseph Ruben (The Good Son), Money Train, however, does not follow this trend. A surprisingly long amount of this movie is spent focusing on the emotional bond between brothers Charlie (Woody Harrelson) and John (Wesley Snipes) as they face the challenges of being New York transit police officers.

The first half of Money Train focuses on the lives and problems of John and Charlie, two hard working police men in charge of stopping crime in subway stations and protecting the "money train," which is the subway train that collects all of the money from selling subway tokens. They are foster brothers, drastically different in character as in appearance. John is a responsible, dedicated cop, who views his job as an important commitment. On the other hand, Charlie is sporadic and hot-tempered, working only to support himself.

Their determined work habits are interrupted by the addition of a female member to their team (Jennifer Lopez) and the gambling debts of John. Both brothers immediately see this female addition as a challenge. When Charlie loses out in these battles, he begins to resent his brother. Charlie claims that he has been in his brother's shadow for his entire life, and is forced to stay there because of John's aggressive attitude.

Too much time is spent developing this struggle of the characters, even though it comprises one of the movie's main themes. Although the director nobly attempts to make the characters dynamic and three-dimensional, the result is merely a dull action movie.

For instance, competition for the same woman and conflicts over the repayment of John's gambling debts threaten the bond between Charlie and John, and their jobs face peril. Also, their haphazard tactics as police decoys cause constant conflict with the head of the MTA (Robert Blake), who often threatens to fire them. Luckily, the movie responds to these false emotional scenes with the superb humor created between Snipes and Harrelson. As shown in the earlier comedy, White Men Cant' Jump, Snipes and Harrelson make a fantastic comedic team bound to get a laugh out of any audience.

It is at this point that Money Train completely changes tracks. The one-liners exchanged between Snipes and Harrelson become less and less frequent, while the action becomes much more intense. Charlie, in despair of his debts, plans to rob the money train. And John, who had banned Charlie from his life, decides that he must come to his brothers rescue.

Still, Money Train is a facade for an action movie. Although advertised as an action-packed movie, the action only occurs in short, infrequent sequences. And though extremely funny in parts, the emotional aspects of the film tended to weigh it down. The movie would have fared much better if it had capitalized on comedy instead of seeking a modern blend of sap and sweat.