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The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

The Taking of Pelham
1 2 3: Movie Review

Genre: Thriller
Rated: R
Directed by:
Tony Scott
Starring: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Luis Guzmán
, Victor Gojcaj
Released by: Columbia Pictures

In Short: Director Tony Scott's remake of the 1974 film of the same name is a fun, thrilling ride right up to the disappointing ending that makes us wish we’d gotten off the train one stop earlier.
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A Wild Ride
Hop on this Train

It is hard to imagine that a movie that is mostly about two guys sitting around talking to each other on a subway car radio could be so engaging, but director Tony Scott (Top Gun, Enemy of the State) has succeeded in making a flick that does just that. With The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, his new version of the 1974 movie of the same name (and both based on the 1973 novel by John Godey), Scott uses fast editing and throws in exciting action away from the central story to make this story of the hijacking of a NYC subway car an thrilling ride on the train.

John Travolta stars as Ryder, an ex-con with a grudge against the Big Apple; he and his gang take over a 6 train headed to Pelham in the Bronx; the 1 2 3 in the title refers to the number of the actual train rather than the line it is traveling. Taking a car full of hostages, he demands a huge ransom be delivered within an hour, or people are going to start to die. Cut to Denzel Washington, who plays Walter Garber, a MTA supervisor whose recent demotion has led him to being on the mike at the control center when Ryder calls in with his demands. Thus begins a cat-and-mouse game that escalates as the single hour the terrorist has allotted for the cash delivery ticks away.

John Travolta in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 Denzel Washington in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

There’s much to like about The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, especially the compelling performances of two of Hollywood’s powerhouse players. Plus, James Gandolfini gives a spot-on turn as the ultra-wealthy mayor of New York City (a thinly veiled version of Mayor Bloomberg) and John Turturro shines as a frustrated hostage negotiator.

But there’s one big problem with Tony Scott’s thriller, and that is the ending. After taking us on a believable ride into the shadowy depths of the subway, when he and his actors come up out of the dark and into the light, the action devolves into an unbelievable dénouement. We won’t give it away, but it is frustrating to see such a promising tale end up so ridiculously. It made us wish we’d gotten off the train one stop short of the last.

By Jenny Peters


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