The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009)

Makes me think twice of taking subways now.

When a group of hijackers led by criminal mastermind Ryder (John Travolta) take the passengers aboard a New York subway train hostage and demand a king’s ransom, it’s up to subway dispatcher Walter Garber (Denzel Washington) to bring them down.

Having not seen the original Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, I went into this film fairly open-minded. But knowing how director Tony Scott can annoy the hell out of me sometimes with his camera-work, kind of made me scared of this project, but it was not all that bad.

Director Tony Scott does it once again, and makes this film really annoying to watch with his constant frenetic camera-work that never seems to work. He does this in films like Unstoppable, The Last Boy Scout, and others, but for this film it was really unneeded. I think that Scott thinks that he needs to stylize every scene so he can make it all look cool, and keep the film thrilling. Oh, and let’s not forget that there is about 3 unnecessary car crashes involved. Why they were in this? Mainly because Tony Scott just wanted one for shits and gigs.

However, the main reason why I did like this film was because it actually was pretty entertaining. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the course of the film, and I didn’t quite exactly know what was going to happen next which is the least I can say for a lot of thrillers nowadays.

The first hour is very tense, and keeps our minds on the film, but by the end it does get to the very generic ending that we have all come to expect by now. While the first hour of this film is extremely – again – intense, around the last 30-40 minutes, the movie just becomes your typical action, chase film. It’s all kind of shame too, cause I really was having a grand time with this film.

Probably the best thing about this film is the constant inter-play between these two amazing actors. Denzel Washington, who looks like he was eating enough Subways for this role, does a great job of playing that likable, every-day man hero we have all come to love and know him as. John Travolta may look like a Hell’s Angel member, who enjoys porn on the weekends, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t convincing. Travolta was great because I believed he was crazy enough to hi-jack a subway, and wildly enough to pull it off, but also two steps ahead of me, the viewer. What makes this movie work is the interplay between these two main characters. They both speak through a box to one another throughout the course of the film, but not once did I want to get up, and go to the bathroom. Throughout that final act of the movie, I was just thinking “C’mon, go back to the two of them talking!” That’s how good it was watching them talking, and that’s why this film really does work. There is also some good side performances from the likes of James Gandolfini, John Turturro, and Luis Guzman.

Consensus: The direction may be too frenetic for this type of work, but the first hour, and constant interplay between Travolta and Washington make this film an enjoyable, if a bit generic thrill ride.



  1. I agree with you. When I saw it I enjoyed it, but now I don’t remember as much about it and wouldn’t buy it.

  2. Not a terrible movie but I thought it was quite mediocre. And I wanted to gouge my eyes off every time Scott would make a 360 degree pan around Denzel Washington’s little office booth…

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