Jump to content

The Taking of Pelham 123 Review

Recommended Posts

The Taking of Pelham 123


R 121 min





Hijacked and or runaway passenger vehicles are a great foundation for action suspense and thrills. There have been a boatload of good ones too, including hair raising rides on trains, planes, buses, rocket ships; even boats.

This remake of the 1974 classic of the same name (Starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw) takes place under Gotham on board a New York City subway car. Hell it’s scary enough to ride the subway even when it isn’t controlled my desperadoes like the Pelham one twenty three.

The original is one of the seminal action flicks of the seventies with a laundry list of rough-hewn NYC style actors.

The latest version stars two of the last few decade’s biggest icons in John Travolta and Denzel Washington as the psycho terrorist and the troubled transit working stiff just unlucky enough to pick up the phone when the bad guys make the ransom call.

What we have is kind of a perverse buddy picture that ties Garber and “Ryder” (originally the crew of hijackers took names of colors but since Tarantino’s RESERVOIR DOGS swiped that bit the new bad guy takes a pseudonym) together for the entire movie.

Ryder wants money, and lots of it in one hour or, he promises, the passengers will die one by one.

The guy in charge of getting the money, by the way, is James “Tony Soprano” Gandolfini in a completely different role of the mayor. Good work too as he plays it not too silly and not too stuffy.

Soon we realize he isn’t bluffing and therefore narrowing the ending possibilities to just about one.

So from here on it’s a series of near misses and action laden sequences as coincidental events trigger harrowing turns. The action is never over the top though with less constrained direction it could easily have slipped away.

Washington plays the straight man just perfectly and Travolta, while as crazy as a s**thouse rat retains just enough natural charisma that will make the climax work.

Nope, I’m not telling.

I will hint that there is at least one plot mechanism I found a bit hard to believe but I won’t tell what it is. See if you find it.

Also I think they should have set up Ryder’s motive a little better, which would have made the ending a little more inevitable.

It never slows down, and while you might cut five minutes or so from the two plus hours, there are no spots that cause you to glance at the old wristwatch.

It’s a tried and true story backed up with a strong cast and top rate direction from veteran Tony Scott.






Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...