When a subway car is hijacked by a deranged terrorist, a train dispatcher tries to talk him down while the city gathers the ransom money.
The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)
Directed by Tony Scott
Written by Brian Helgeland
Starring Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Luis Guzmán,
John Turturro, James Gandolfini, Michael Rispoli
Remake of 1974's The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
Based on the novel by John Godey
In the late 2000's and early 2010's, both Denzel Washington and John Travolta did a string of action thrillers, most of which are subpar at best. Occasionally, you get a gem like this, one that shouldn't be worth a damn but works thanks to both Denzel's and Travolta's dedicated performances. The Taking of Pelham 123 is a remake of a late 70's action flick starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw, one that I haven't had the pleasure to watch yet. But I can say that the remake is a decent watch and an unpredictable heist thriller.
On a day like any other, subway dispatcher Walter Garber (Washington) finds himself dealing with a hostage situation. The ringleader, a man named Ryder (Travolta), wants $10 million and he will only talk to Garber. The city of New York is in a frenzy, trying to find out who this guy is and what his endgame is. Meanwhile, Garber negotiates with Ryder and does his best to try and keep him from killing the hostages. The back-and-forth between Garber and Ryder is what will keep you glued to the screen. Both acting legends help elevate this generic heist thriller into an intense bit of excitement.
The Taking of Pelham 123 is a gold nugget in a very large pile of rocks. I think Travolta gives one of his most intense performances, and makes me think he needs to play more bad guys. On the opposite side, Denzel plays a great unlikely hero, a man who is forced into an impossible situation and steps up. Thanks to Tony Scott's unsettling direction and a decent supporting cast as well, this movie is way better than it should have been.