My fellow Americans, it’s Tax Day! That means it’s time for the final installment of Dr. Hollywood or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Pay My Taxes, a fun and friendly series to remind you to pay your taxes. Hopefully, you have either finished your taxes or filed for an extension because we would hate for you to suffer a fate similar to Wesley Snipes who is still serving time for his tax-evasive shenanigans.
John (Wesley Snipes) and Charlie (Woody Harrelson) are transit cops (and brothers) who land on Chief Patterson’s (Robert Blake) shit list when their decoy sting delays his money train; the armored subway car used to collect fare revenues. John, good brother that he is, tries to keep Charlie out of trouble, but he’s a perpetual fuck-up with the world against him. After nearly botching the sting to catch the subway arsonist they call the Torch (Chris Cooper), failing to woo their new colleague, Grace Santiago (Jennifer Lopez), and being buried up to his eyeballs in gambling debt, Charlie feels he’s got nothing to lose and sets out to rob that prick Patterson of his precious money train.
Totally unintentional, but after watching Money Train I realized that Robert Blake owed over $1,000,000 in back taxes in 2010 and Marc Anthony, who’s not in this movie, but is separated from Snipes’ costar Jennifer Lopez, owed over $5,500,000 in back taxes. This is a more fruitful series selection than I first thought. But I digress.
As you might can tell from the lengthy synopsis, Money Train has a rather complex plot. A dysfunctional family, a mob debt, an arson terrorist, a heist plot, and a love triangle are all linked with shoot-outs, brawls and bouts of shucking and jiving. Director Joseph Ruben manages to keep the dense plot passably coherent, but doing so requires being glued to the screen for nearly two hours.
It’s hard to say exactly what’s wrong with Money Train because it mostly works. The various plot points are set up appropriately and have decent resolutions. Well, save for the love triangle, but this is an action-comedy so I doubt the target audience cares about such things. It’s obvious off-screen friends Wesley and Woody are having a good time playing off one another and the constant bickering and camaraderie befits that of the brothers they play. Robert Blake plays Patterson as a major fucking dick from minute one, which makes him the perfect target for getting his just desserts. Lopez even gives audiences a brief peek of her perkies, so that’s an unexpected plus.
Money Train‘s dialogue is littered with wearisome cliches. Snipes gets in some quality fight sequences and Harrelson is good at nursing a busted lip, but watching Woody save children from runaway horse carriages and Wesley drive motorcycles into the subway is too much. Then there’s the whole stopping the unstoppable money train, which is another preposterous issue entirely.
The more I think about it, the more I believe Money Train is trying to juggle way too many balls. For the four in the air, there’s always one that’s being dropped. It’s cool the juggler can toss that lost one back into the spin with a flick of his foot, but how cool is it that it was dropped in the first place?