Tony Scott's take on the well respected Joseph Sargent/Walter Matthau 1974 film a brave attempt but it comes up a little short in a few ways.
Cast wise Denzel Washington plays Walter Garber (the original was Zachary, but a nod to Matthau's performance taking his first name) John Travolta steps into the Mr. Blue shoes, contrasting the Robert Shaw performance.
Both try their best, though Travolta does go a bit overboard with the drama at times. Washington's performance is quite good (but it lacks the wit and edge of Matthau's) and the supporting cast are decent enough James Gandolfini as the Major. The problems though are numerous despite Scott's attempts at some fancy camera work (which can be annoying at times) he can't make up for the rather pedestrian script, obvious storyline with few surprises and the actors just don't have the same vibe that the 1974 film does. Even the soundtrack pales next to the original.
It's not all bad news, if you can forget the 1974 film was ever made (or have not seen it) it's not a terrible film and passes the time it's not a turn it off horrible production. It fails to really take off for me the edge isn't there (despite the contrast of the two lead actors, Washington is a little too calm at times) Then we come to the ending, a real corker on the 1974 film, here they have slipped into a very predictable and obvious ending, which isn't a patch on the first one.
Not bad, but really if you want to watch a real action thriller order the Matthau version it's hand down a better film, that one is taut edgy, with an great cast and good script...one of those films that just works brilliantly (everything comes together smoothly in a way some productions just do). Sadly this version is yet another release that falls into the "please don't try to remake outstanding films" seems the message has yet to sink in at the film studios.