Sometimes I'm just in the mood for a corny action flick from the 90s. I remember 'Money Train' being just another throwaway buddy cop movie that came and went when Wesley Snipes was considered a "movie star." I never thought much about the movie when I first saw it all those years ago, but revisiting it was actually quite an enjoyable time. Sure, I wish I had a group of friends around me to riff on the movie with, but it was a pleasant time nonetheless.
Our buddy cop duo consists of two brothers, although by looking at them you wouldn't think that they were related. Charlie (Woody Harrelson) is the screw-up brother who can't stop gambling. John (Wesley Snipes) is the responsible brother who's always there to help Charlie out of the trouble he gets in to. The two of them grew up together as foster brothers and are now transit detectives who work the subway lines in New York City. They do mundane things like catching pickpockets and small-time robbers who target drunk people in the subway.
One of the best, and most ridiculous parts of the movie, is their boss. Donald Patterson (Robert Blake) is the kingpin of the New York Underground. Here's a guy that oversees the movement of trains back and forth all day, but he acts more like Al Capone. He dresses in pinstripe suits and shouts orders through an old-timey microphone in his office. Blake tries so adamantly to make this guy a badass, but he comes across as a wannabe. That's part of the charm, though. Charlie and John poke endless fun at him and his odd superiority complex.
The thing that Patterson cares the most about is the "money train." It's the train that carries all of the subway's revenue each night. It goes around collecting the fare money from the toll booths along the route and brings it back to be counted and tagged. There's oodles of money in there, and Patterson doesn't stop the money train for anything. He's like a scarier version of Scrooge McDuck. You can just imagine Patterson going home and jumping into a pile of subway tokens.
The chemistry between Snipes and Harrelson is what makes 'Money Train' watchable. I'll always find a place in my heart for creative cursing, and these guys paint verbal portraits with their swearing.
We know that at some point Charlie and John are going to end up knocking off the money train, or trying to anyway. Charlie is sick of being stuck in gambling debt and John is sick of carrying Charlie's sorry butt through life. The movie gets a bit lost somewhere in the middle when it slogs along through a tepid romance triangle involving a new cop played by Jennifer Lopez. There's also a strange tangent of a subplot involving Chris Cooper lighting poor toll booth operators on fire. Cooper is creepy in the limited role, but the movie seems to grind to a halt whenever we get another glimpse of "The Torch" – as he's called. Almost like this should be in a completely different movie.
This isn't a perfect buddy action comedy, but it's actually a breezy way to spend an hour and forty minutes. Watching Blake seethe and fester is hilarious. It's like he got stuck directing subways after his application for the mafia was turned down. 'Money Train' may not be your go to 90s action film, but you could do worse. If anything you'll get a few laughs out of it.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Money Train' has been released on Blu-ray by Image Entertainment. It's housed on a BD25 Single-layer disc. It's been coded for region A use.
It's hard to predict what kind of video transfer you're going to get from a movie that was filmed in the late 90s. Sometimes they're good, other times they're horrid. Luckily enough it seems that Image Entertainment has a pretty good track record when it comes to transferring movies to Blu-ray. All you have to do is look at the 'Twilight Zone' releases to see what they're capable of. Does that mean that 'Money Train' is as amazing as the 'Twilight Zone' Blu-rays? Not quite, but it does have a decent looking transfer that will no doubt please fans.
'Money Train's 1080p transfer leans toward the softer side. Detail isn't as clear as it could be and there are moments that look as if DNR has created waxy looking skin here and there. I also caught a couple of instances where it seems like there's some noticeable edge enhancement going on, but it isn't bad enough to take over the scenes.
Detail is satisfactory when the camera zooms in on the individual actors. Freckles, smile lines, and fine hair can all be discerned to a point. Colors are a little muted, but are presented nicely for the most part. Blacks aren't as deep as the could be and some shadows do end up crushing out a bit of the detail the movie has to offer. But to be honest, I think I'm making this video presentation sound worse than it actually is. 'Money Train' has been given a decent Blu-ray transfer overall, and though it's unlikely you'll jump off your couch singing its praises, you won't find it to be an eyesore, either.
I was impressed by 'Money Train's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. Image has done a nice job with the sound here. All the dialogue is intelligible, which is nice, but the real fun comes from the action scenes.
One of the few complaints I have with this audio mix is that higher-end yelling and sound effects seem to become muffled once they reach the ceiling of this mix's performance capabilities.
LFE rumbles as the runaway money train roars down the track. Rear channels jostle as train cars smash into each other. The entire room fills with all kinds of crunching metal sounds as a huge train tumbles end over end through a subway tunnel destroying everything in its path. This is what you want from an action film audio presentation. It's nice that the dialogue is easy to hear above all the commotion, but it's even better that the actual commotion keeps us interested in the movie.
I guess I was just in the right mood for this movie. There's nothing overtly special about it, and the middle drags on and on without any sort of structure. Still, Snipes and Harrelson together, somehow, make this movie watchable. They have some wonderfully scripted conversations where they curse like it's part of their job, and let me add they're professionals. I don't know, there's just something about 'Money Train' that makes me chuckle and sometimes that's all I really ask for from a movie. Plus it doesn't hurt that the audio and video are adequately done. This catalogue title comes lightly recommended if you like to have a laugh along with your action movies, but you may want to consider renting it to see if you feel the same way I do.