The Taking of Pelham 123 Review

Published 6 years ago by

Short version: If you’re a fan of Travolta and Denzel you’ll probably like The Taking of Pelham 123.

taking pelham 123 reviews The Taking of Pelham 123 Review
Screen Rant reviews The Taking of Pelham 123

The Taking of Pelham 123 is a remake of the highly regarded 1974 film The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, which starred old-school actors Walter Matthau, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizando and Earl Hindman. I will confess that it’s probably been at least 20 years since I’ve seen it and don’t remember much about it – but I plan on renting it very soon to watch it again.

Like in the original, the story revolves around a handful of men who hijack a New York City subway train in an attempt to extort millions of dollars from the city using hostages as leverage. Denzel Washington plays Walter Garber,  a console dispatcher at the rail control center of the NYC subway who happens to be on duty when the hijacking takes place. John Travolta plays Ryder, the extremely hard-edged leader of the train hijacking.

While the setup for the film is a pretty typical hostage taker vs. negotiator story, albeit with a “civilian” (Denzel) dealing with the bad guy (Travolta), there is plenty to keep you guessing. Ryder gives the city one hour to deliver $10 million or he will begin killing hostages, one every minute. Of course at first the good guys don’t know who they’re dealing with, but it doesn’t take long for them to determine they need to take Ryder and his crew very seriously.

Director Tony Scott gave the film a highly stylized look that was employed in overdrive during the opening credits which while cool, was thankfully used less throughout the film. They tried to inject some ambiguity into the plot in order to keep things interesting for the audience, but while Ryder’s plan was pretty evident early on, it wasn’t clear what was going to happen with Denzel’s character.

I enjoyed seeing Travolta chew up the scenery as an unadulterated bad guy, James Gandolfini was great as the mayor and it was a pleasure seeing John Turturro in an authority role not acting like a total idiot (*cough* Transformers *cough*). I also liked the New York City vibe that Scott imbued into the film. What didn’t fit was fitting a cross town car chase sequence into what was shaping up to be a fairly tense thriller – and it was even pointed out by characters in the film that they should have just used a helicopter.

There are plenty of tense moments in the movie and the interplay between the characters is very good – Tony Scott keeps you guessing as to who these characters really are and how everything will play out. You won’t be bored while watching this film.

Overall The Taking of Pelham 123 wasn’t all that bad despite what some critics are saying, and if you’re a fan of the actors listed above you’ll probably enjoy it.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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  1. Thanks for insulting my education then recommending the movie Daniel…

    The title was lame that was my overall point. Ghesshh your a thick brick.

  2. Wow actually I didn’t insult your education at all I simply said that anyone who went to schoold would have the plot spoiled just by seeing his name on there. I didn’t even come close to insinuating that you had no education or that you went to school. You read way to much in to that. You did however actually insult me so thanks. Once again being the wonderful person that you are. I have to say wonderful because if I say what you really are my comment will be deleted. I’m the only person on these boards who isn’t allowed to say something mean even when I’m defending my self.

  3. Yeah! yeah I feel bad for ya Daniel…
    My heart bleeds ,,,
    Ha,ha,,,you crack me up bro.
    Damn it !!! (Jack Bauer voice impersonated) ,Vic the conspiracy has been blown, Daniel’s on to us. Abort, abort,,,!!!

  4. Daniel F
    Michael Mann is so good because he is edgy and knows how to set a crucial tone. I love the way he films action scenes, very fast with the volume amped up which makes it ultra realistic. I agree there have been a few letdowns in there (Ali, Miami Vice) . But the rest of his movies are all solid. One of my favs is collateral which is just a top notch thriller with top notch performances. Heat of course is a classic but The Last of the Mohicans is a truly unique film of his. Also he attaches himself as producer to a number of films that are like his which adds to his greatness. The Kingdom was another great one he was attached too. Also I think he picks his roles very precisely (except miami vice, colin farrel sucks) and that will be shown in the upcoming Public Enemies which looks very promising.

  5. I hate when someone tries to say that somebody is good because they are edgy. Edgy should never be the reason someone is good it should just be a stylist choice that a good director decides to do or not do. Plenty of crappy directors choose to be edgy and plenty of greats choose not to be. Edgy is just something some people like to hang their hat on to try and give them selves some kind of pat on the back. So they can use excuses like “It was a great movie, but I guess it was just to Edgy for those Americans”

    Collateral in my opinion sucked. The writing was ok the directing was ok, but the performances were pretty bad actually. Some were awful and the best performances of the film were just bland. Kingdom was the exact opposite. A movie with good acting but horrible writing and directing. That film just was hard to watch. Personally for me Heat was a really good movie when it came out, but simply didn’t hold up well over time and is just a pretty decent flick to me these days. Not a film I would choose to watch again, but at the same time not a film I would protest seeing again if someone was playing it and I wanted to hang out. Last of the Moohicans was incredibly dull. He had a chance to do something special with it and really just made it a sleeper. There was nothing about that movie for me. It wasn’t exciting, It wasn’t funny, It wasn’t sad, It wasn’t deep, It wasn’t overly dramatic, it wasn’t really that complicated of a story, it wasn’t even that intellectual. It was just there. After watching the movie I felt like I had truly done nothing the entire time. There have been films in my life that were so awful that I wanted to demand for my hour or two back. With Mohicans I couldn’t even remember what I had done for that two hours. It wasn’t a bad film it was simply nothing. It was slightly better than sitting on the couch starring at a blank screen for 2 hours and that’s only because it had moving pictures and wasn’t awful.

    Colin Ferrel is actually a good actor who chooses some bad roles. A film I recommend to anyone that questions his ability is In The Bruges. It was a bit of an overlooked film that a lot of people missed, but it was emotionally powerful and extremely funny at the same time. Even had a little action in there.

  6. well I guess I just like his style enough to endure the slower moments… How can you say acting in collateral is bad? Foxx was incredibly believable and Cruise was menacing with a small sliver of humanity. Whatever Kingdoms acting was def not as good but the action was more plentiful and mainstream. Collin Farrel is complete garbage and even though I heard that movie was very good I also heard that Breendan Gleeson stole the show.

  7. Everyone has their own personal style or preference.

    However, with Collateral Foxx had a very Dull performance that wasn’t bad, but nothing spectacular either. Cruise was just bad which is the norm for him especially when it comes to post 90′s. Really he has only had two or three good performances.

    The Kingdom was just a bad film. I mean it was pretty universally panned as crap. Hell forget about the bad writting and directing for the film and just go with the terrible message it attempted to send. It was a very insulting film and not just of our intelligence.

    Farrel did better than Gleeson. I thought Gleeson was brilliant, but Farrel really brought something special to his role in the film. He was very amazing in the film and you really felt emotionally drawn to him. You laughed at every line he said that you were suppose and felt for him everytime you needed to. I really dragged you in. He was also very good in Pride and Glory though Norton was of course the best performance I would give Farrel a close second.

  8. Getting back to Pelham, I saw this on Saturday and while it was an entertaining film, I did find myself nodding off later on. It could have been too much sugar or the plot started getting boring; I would say about 3 out of 5.

  9. Finally saw the film my self friend dragged me to see it. Neither of us liked it. I think a 3.5 is way to generous. I would say a 2.5 at best. I think it’s better than a 2, but giving it a 2.5 feels like to much. Oh well. The story seemed way to forced at times and while Washington was spot on Travolta was just way to over the top.

  10. @Daniel F

    Told ya. :-P


  11. Luckily buddy of mine paid so it didn’t cost me anything otherwise I’d of demanded a refund lol

  12. moochin and lookin at screen rant too much. So what if the kingdom was panned as crap i still think it was cool. And the message is “insulting”? What are you talking about do you have a PHD or something, wasn’t the meaning terrorists want to kill us just as bad as we them? Not ground-breaking but not false either. I’m mostly looking at the action, real sweet realistic scenes. I mean obviously we aren’t talking academy award winning screenplay here but I thought it was passable.. By the way I thought Man on Fire was superb by the way.

  13. I just saw this movie and so far I have to give it 1.5/5, it is just a typical hollywood low and short budgeted movies, w/ 2 name brands actors,denzel and travolta. Denzel, he IS GOOD, in my years of seeing movies w/ him as the character,he can really turn the movie, most movies heplayed into a good one, worth seeing. Travolta should stick to movies like Grease! The musical genre, he IS JUST BAD FOR THIS TYPE OF ACTION MOVIES,WHY NOT TOM CRUISE?

  14. Fenix at least we agree about Man on Fire.

  15. Well I’m glad we can see eye to eye on that. By the way you are like on every post… are you some sort of movie guru or something? ha

  16. I’m just a loser with no life outside of my computer lol. I work, but I have an Iphone so I still visit the site from there then I come home and I sleep wake up and get back on the net lol.

  17. nice, i feel like a loser getting on here a lot but theres interesting stuff on here and I like some of the discussions. By far my favorite site.

  18. Thanks for saying so, Fenix. :)

    And Daniel, you’re not a loser – grumpy, yes, loser, no. :-P


  19. You forgot bitter Vic. I’m like the 60 year old man yelling at kids on his lawn yet I haven’t even had my big 30 birthday yet lol.

  20. Daniel you don’t have a Grand Torino do ya? Or a Garand 308 near the door?

  21. I wish to hell I had a Gran Torino 1972.

  22. Taking of Pelham 123 was pretty decent I thought. It was lackign at the end though and that girl on the webcam pissed me off with the oh so uc ant say u love me bit jsut like a typical selfish would get upset about regardless of if they guy she loves gets a cap blasted in his ass, gotta get that love me in there or else the B switch comes on. BIG PFFFT ON THAT SCENE.

  23. Of all the crashes and ratbites and quick million dollar withdrawals, nothing was as unbelievable as the laptop screen being lit up, showing live screen movement, facing out from the wall–and yet the bad guys paced back and forth, looking down at the hostages, and didn’t see the thing until oh, forever.