Money Train


No, I didn't fall for the ads. I did know that Bob Dole and the Wall Street Journal had called for the film to be withdrawn (I read that in both the WSJ and on GEnie, so it must be true) because it showed some guy burning down a token booth, and a couple of days later, a couple of jokers burned down a token booth for real. (That isn't the first time anyone's burned down a token booth, of course, and last I heard no one knew if the real-life perps had even heard of the movie, let alone seen it.)

Anyway, there I was, coming to a theatre. And as is my practice, I bought a ticket for the Very Next Movie Showing.

With Money Train showing on two screens, guess what was coming up next. So I went in and dozed to Christmas music until the show started (with a trailer for The Juror, which might turn out to be a Very Annoying Movie all on its own, and Dracula: Dead And Loving It).

Anyway, we start Money Train with a long helicopter shot of New York City during Christmas season. And then we follow a fellow, a drunk, down into the subway tunnels, where a pair of youths steal his watch and such. But surprise! It's really Woody Harrelson (playing a guy named Charlie), and he's a transit cop on decoy duty, and his partner is Wesley Snipes (I forget his name in the movie). One of the youths runs off into the tunnels, so our cops go chasing him. They radio back to headquarters to stop the trains so that they won't get hit. But Chief Patterson (played by Robert Blake) won't have that. One of the trains being halted is the Money Train, the armor-plated special subway car that goes from station to station at the end of the day, picking up the cash from the token booths. So the Money Train rolls, and our heroes have to flatten themselves against the walls of the tunnel while the train whizzes by inches from their noses. (They spend a lot of this movie in that position.) Anyway, the young robber runs on ahead, and leaps up onto the platform, where the cops (in flack jackets, carrying machineguns) who are guarding the Money Train shoot him to pieces. Our two hero cops get really upset by this, so they punch out the cops with the machineguns.

This lands them in the chief's office, getting yelled at. Meanwhile, since this is being put together with a Plot By Numbers kit, I figure that I'm watching a remake of The War Wagon (with John Wayne). I'm wrong -- a remake of The War Wagon would have been entertaining.

In the mandatory The Chief Yells At the Nonconforming Cops scene, while I was wondering a) what kind of doofuses start a fistfight with guys wearing flack jackets and carrying machineguns, and b) why they weren't being given a thirty day suspension without pay, if not being fired, for assault, we learn that these two cretins are brothers, even though they look nothing alike. You see, Charlie is a foundling who was taken in by Wesley's mother. This leads to lots of Mother Always Liked You Best scenes in the film, which I suppose were meant to be humor.

Now we learn that Charlie has a serious gambling problem. He's in debt $15K to the mob.

Now, in a cliché from an entirely different kind of cop movie, our heroes are given a new partner, a beautiful young lady. And get this! She's Hispanic! And wow! You'll never guess the next plot twist! They both fall in love with her!

Do I have to go through all this plot-summary stuff? You could write this one (better than the writers did, I betcha).

Yeah, I probably have to go through the plot summary, because never in a million years will you guess the depths of stupidity we're going to get to.

They have a few more foot-chases.

They see a ladder leading up from the subway tunnels to a park, and they see a grating in the floor of the Money Train, and they start another fist fight with the guys with the flack jackets and machineguns, but they don't get suspended for sixty days without pay, if not fired.

But I'm going to skip over a whole bunch. To make a tedious story short, Wesley gets the girl. There's a sex scene.

Yeah, well. Wesley lends Charlie the $15K to pay back the mob. What are brothers for, after all? Maybe he's one hell of a money manager and has been saving since he was in high school. But -- you'll never guess what happens next, not in a million years -- Charlie gets his pocket picked on the way to pay off the mob. So there's only one thing to do. He has to rob the Money Train.

And Wesley goes to the mob boss's headquarters and punches out everyone, including the mob boss, and no one shoots him.

So ready for this. Charlie goes to a station where the Money Train has stopped, to pick up the day's receipts. He rolls onto the track. He's underneath, with a grating held in place by four 3/4" monel bolts above him. Does he take a wrench to unscrew the bolts? No! He pulls out a cutting torch to cut 'em off. Directly above his face. While not wearing a welder's mask. Okay, so he gets the bolts off, somehow without blinding himself or setting his hair on fire, or alerting anyone. Remember all those cops with the flack jackets and machineguns? They've apparently gone out for donuts while he's been cutting off those bolts. There's no one on the train but the motorman and all that money. So Charlie throws the motorman off the train and takes off with it.

He drives to that ladder leading up to the grating in a park somewhere, and grabs a couple of bags labled $500,000, and climbs the ladder. And I'm saying to myself, "What? Did everyone in New York buy their tokens with thousand dollar bills today? How's he lifting those suckers?"

But he can't get up because there are cops in the park. So he goes back to the train, and, get this, Wesley is there waiting for him, because he's figured out what's going on, and he's going to stop his brother from doing this. But he's not going to let his brother get arrested.

Okay, so they take off in the train. And I'm wondering how long it's going to take for someone in headquarters to remember that to stop this train all they have to do is turn off the power to the third rail.

Anyway, Wesley and Charlie are wondering how soon the guys in headquarters are going to try to stop them. So they decide to bleed the brakes.

Now let me tell you something about air brakes. The brake shoes are on big springs, but held off the wheels with major air pressure. If anything happens to the air hose, the springs work and the thing stops. "Bleeding the brakes," will make the brakes work. Anything at all you do other than maintaining pressure will make the brakes work. But our heroes "bleed the brakes" so now the train won't stop.

And the guys in headquarters decide to stop the train, not by turning off power to the third rail (I'm wondering how long it'll take 'em to figure out to turn off the power) but by tripping the brakes. But our heroes have bled the brakes! They keep going!

So Chief Patterson decides to stop the train by putting a steel-reinforced barrier across the tracks, and putting a whole bunch of cops with machineguns in there to shoot up the motorman's compartment. And I'm wondering how long it'll take him to figure out that he can turn off the power to the third rail.

Bet you'll never guess what our heroes are doing while all this is going on. They're having a fist fight with -- since no one wearing a flack jacket and carrying a machinegun is available -- each other!

Well, the bullets have no effect, and the train crashes right through the barrier. But the throttle has jammed full open! There's no way to stop! I wonder how long it'll be before someone at headquarters figures out that they can stop the Money Train by turning off the power to the third rail.

Hah! Chief Patterson has an idea! If he puts a regular subway train full of passengers in front of the Money Train, it will act as a barricade and stop the thieves! (The third rail hasn't occurred to him yet.)

Oh my goodness! Our heroes see what is going to happen! There's only one thing they can do to prevent the deaths of all those commuters. (Since they're the heroes they'll do anything to stop the commuters from getting killed.) They can put the train in reverse. This will cause it to derail, and they'll get killed for sure, but all those innocent lives! (The third rail?)

But wait! Our heroes take a pole, knock out the front window of the Money Train, and brace the pole so that when it hits the back of the other train, it'll hit the Reverse switch!

Meanwhile, Chief Patterson and all his flack-jacket-clad, machinegun-toting cops are on their way to the station where the wreck is scheduled to occur. So's our heroes' beautiful young Hispanic partner (she heard all about this on her police radio).

Just at the last moment, our heroes climb to the top of the Money Train, and at the moment of impact they leap across to the other subway train (their momentum is not conserved). The Money Train goes into reverse, and derails and crashes.

Chief Patterson is there, but his cops find no one on the wrecked Money Train. And our heroes climb down from the stopped passenger train, and as they leave with the passengers, they meet Chief Patterson. "We heard there was trouble," they say, "so we came right down here." Then they punch out the chief.

About now their partner arrives, and arrests the chief for endangering the civilian passengers.

Our heroes go out to the street, where it's revealed that Charlie has, stuffed under his coat, a bag containing $500,000, presumably in thousand dollar bills.

And that's the end of the movie.


Now about that blazing token booth that Bob Dole's so excited about. You're probably wondering what part that had to play in the plot.

It didn't! Arrrgh! What it was there for was so our heroes could leap across tracks seconds before rushing trains, and so they could flatten themselves against tunnel walls with trains inches from their noses!

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