Money Train (1995) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's notes

Money Train (1995) is a nearly universally hated action film staring Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, and Jennifer Lopez as New York transit authority cops. Snipes and Harrelson are step-brothers, partners and best friends. Harrelson has a gambling and a drinking problem. Both are talented cops, and Lopez proves to be equally talented. Woody falls for her, but she is more interested in Snipes.

Woody is in deep trouble over his gambling debts, and all three hate Captain Patterson (Robert Blake), who is in charge of the Money Train -- the train that carries the day's transit receipts, which is frequently several million dollars. Harrelson becomes increasingly interested in robbing the money train to pay off his gambling debts, get even with Patterson, and start over in a tropical paradise. 

With my apologies to the experts, I was entertained by this film, mainly due to the three major characters. Harrelson and Snipes have definite chemistry, and Lopez was wonderful as an Hispanic cop with an attitude.


DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1

  • No meaningful features



J-Lo shows her breasts in a love scene with Snipes.

Scoop's notes


Tuna disagreed with the critics who savaged this film. I agreed with the overall critical verdict, but I didn't generally agree with most of the justifications that the critics proffered. "Oh, they spent too much money and repeated too much from other movies."

Let's face it, critical reviews have to do with much more than the intrinsic quality of the product. 

First, there is a context to consider. Imagine, for example, that you re-made Raiders of the Lost Ark, just as good as the first one, but with a different cast. Would the critics rate that based on the intrinsic quality of the movie? Of course not. Objectively, it would be a four star film, just as it used to be, but nobody would give it four stars. They would give it zero or one star and claim it was a rip-off. But now imagine people who have never seen Raiders. They watch a brilliant action/adventure, then they read the local paper and the reviewer says one star, and they can't make any sense of it, because it's a terrific movie. This context issue gets trickier as reviewers get too impressed with their own knowledge. Sometimes critics end up grading a film down because Kurosawa or John Ford already did it 50 years ago, even though most people don't really know or care.

Second, in addition to the context, there are the biases or preferences of the reviewer. Nobody is free from them. I probably have as many as anyone else, or even more. Reviewers always have certain predispositions that they may not even be aware of. The most common bias is against comedy. Like the Oscar committee, many reviewers will automatically give a higher score to an uplifting, well-intentioned but failed drama than to a brilliant gross-out comedy. We all know that South Park was about a zillion times better movie than The Hours, but how many reviewers were able to evaluate those projects without their own preconceptions? The second most common bias is against action pictures. Swordfish is not a great movie, but is probably a far better picture than that ludicrous Ethan Hawke Hamlet, yet very few reviewers could get over their predisposition that a sincere Hamlet must somehow be better than a brainless actioner.

Third, critics automatically save their harshest vituperation for projects with enormous budgets and egos behind them. Little Nicky, Waterworld, Battlefield Earth, The Postman, Mission to Mars, and other films that cost mega-millions get hammered much harder than sincere indies made on a shoestring. I look at budgets as matters of interest, but not matters relevant to the quality. Having seen both films, for example, I am curious to know how Little Nicky could possibly have cost as much as Enemy at the Gates, but in the long run, that doesn't affect my opinion of the films. I like Lawrence of Arabia, even though they could have fed the world for a decade on the budget. I like Chasing Amy, even though the production looks cheap, and was cheap.

In the case of Money Train, it had all three strikes against it with the critics. (1) It was a mindless actioner. (2) It cost a lot of money to make. (3) Many people felt that had seen it all and heard it all before, especially every element which involved the character played by Baretta - the over-the-top prick of a head cop who keeps busting the chops of our heroes, the hard-working but unorthodox street cops who play by their own rules. 

Personally, I don't care what a film costs or if it is derivative of some pre-war Albanian masterpiece. I only care whether it entertains me or holds my interest in some way. Having said all that, I have to admit that I still didn't much care for this film. The plot is totally unbelievable, and the second half of the film is just a masturbatory fantasy. It ends with Wesley Snipes, acting on his own, beating up an entire New York mob with his fists. Then Jennifer Lopez, a uniformed officer, arrests a police commander right on the street in the middle of an action he is commanding - not for something obvious like murder, but for endangering innocent lives with his decisions. Yeah, that'll happen. That arrest is particularly ironic since it was actually our heroes, Snipes and Harrelson, who endangered all those lives. Baretta just made some bad decisions when he was pursuing them. Yet we are supposed to love Snipes and Harrelson, even though they endanger the lives of hundreds of New Yorkers on New Years Eve, and destroy an entire subway station in such a way that the street might even have caved in above it, endangering thousands more. In essence, what they did in this movie had the potential to be as lethal as the attacks on 9/11. In the end, that lovable scalawag Woody, not content with the life-threatening damage he has already done, all of which will probably cost tens of millions of dollars to repair and close a subway station for months, also steals $500,000 of New York's money. Sorry, but I just can't find all of that to be on the same level as a wacky fraternity prank, which is how the movie wants us to view it.

Tuna liked the camaraderie of the characters, and I did, too. In fact, I enjoyed the first half of the movie when it was basically a buddy film, and I was impressed with some of the subway action scenes. If you haven't seen it all before in another movie, and if you don't really care how much it cost, you might find that Money Train provides you with some mindless entertainment.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: one and a half stars. Ebert 1.5/4, Berardinelli .5/4, Maltin 2/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 4.5
  • With their dollars ... this film might have been considered a financial success if it had been made more modestly. It grossed $35 million, and some movies would rack up some serious profit at that level, but this one cost $68 million to make.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, Tuna graded it a C, Scoop called it a C-.

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