Vincent D’Onofrio can’t seem to get out of the subway system. He was pinned by an underground-railroad car in a recent instant-classic episode of NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Street. Now the Men in Black and Full Metal Jacket vet delivers another memorable performance as the coolly efficient leader of a band of terrorists who hijack a Manhattan subway in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, an engrossing remake of the 1974 Walter Matthau movie (which clearly inspired Quentin Tarantino). As ”Mr. Blue,” D’Onofrio exudes an explosive sense of danger — you really believe he would be willing to do anything to get the $5 million that he and his comrades are demanding.
The film’s uncommonly strong supporting cast includes ex-New Kid on the Block Donnie Wahlberg (Marky Mark’s dyed-blond bro) as ”Mr. Grey,” the loose cannon in D’Onofrio’s gang; Richard Schiff (Relativity) as ”Mr. Green,” the disgruntled former subway employee who masterminds the plot; and the real-life husband-and-wife team of Edward James Olmos and Lorraine Bracco as the no-nonsense NYPD hostage negotiators. But the real star of this flick is director Felix Enriquez Alcala (ER, NYPD Blue), whose stylish photography and propulsive pacing turn Pelham into one of the most remarkable network-TV movies in recent memory. A