Armed men hijack a New York City subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day's work for dispatcher Walter Garber into a face-off with the mastermind behind the crime.
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I know a lot of people will disagree but, I liked this movie. It had really fast-paced butt-kicking action all throughout. It doesn't stop for a sentimental moment at any point in the movie. If this movie were a human it would say: "BAM! I'm Pelham 123! I kick your ass from start to finish!". Although it was basically "Die Hard on a Train", it was suspenseful, action-packed, and John Travolta did a great job as Ryder. Overall, I liked it and was entertained the whole time. 7.1
Washington plays a civil serviceman named Garber working as a dispatcher for the New York City subway station. While he is on the job in the middle of the day, a group of gunmen decide to hijack the train of Pelham 1 2 3. This group is led by a brutal man who calls himself Ryder, played by Travolta. As the two converse, Garber finds out that if Ryder doesn't get ten million dollars from the government in one hour then he will start executing passengers every minute after that.
The first hour of the film is quite good. Once the interplay between the two leads started the film had me pinned to my seat. Both of these men give great performances in the film but especially Denzel. He has played many wise characters in his past films, ones that know the answer to a conflict. But here, he plays more of a reluctant character and gives depth to Garber. Washington doesn't make himself seem like a big time movie star, but instead a flawed man which really adds to the drama of the film.
But then the movie evolves into its third act and boy does it become a mess. Its moves from the subway station up to the streets and becomes less and less intelligent. Part of this is due to the fact that there is a car chase that feels forced from director and was just a silly excuse for the film to have more action. In the end, there is no twist and the film is straight forward which feels like a bit of a let down after all of the tension that goes on within the first two acts.
That said, Denzel Washington and John Travolta are two very talented actors and hold the film in place along with John Turturro (the guy that likes feet from Mr. Deeds) as a hostage negotiator. The chemistry is so good between Washington and Travolta that I think the film is worth seeing.
At The Movies
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (PG) * * * *
By ROBERT WALDMAN
Remakes can be tricky affairs. Sometimes redoing a classic can go off the rails. Put master director Tony Scott at the controls and odds are good whatever he touches will turn to gold. Columbia Pictures teams up with MGM Studios to deliver the goods big time with The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, a full on 106 minute action-packed tale now driving heartbeats up at Empire Esplanade 6, Empire Studio 12, Colossus and Famous Players Silver City sites throughout B.C. Speed on the rails may well be the slogan to promote this action classic which turns up the excitement from the first few minutes and never falters.
New York gets more than its share of press coverage. Known as the financial capital of the world the city that never sleeps attracts a wide variety of characters. Commuting in this city can be a nightmare. Forget about traffic chaos in Vancouver or any other Canadian city. Smart folk take public transit. With TranslinkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s current head hailing from New York by watching The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 we sort of get an inside view of what mass transit is all about.
By day transit employee Walter Garber goes about his regular routine of overseeing the subway system. Things go from bad to worse for Walter when from out of the blue things go wrong. Just like the traffic chaos so evident in Live Free or Die Hard with The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 some maniac has taken control of the subway.
Chaos ensues and we get immersed in a monumental struggle pitting a renegade crook against the best brains in transit and the local authorities. Hostage negotiations can be tricky affairs and Garber winds up in a colossal battle with the hijacker, an unknown entity named Ryder. Sparks fly and the tension never falters as itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a race against time to see if anything can be done to regain control of the trains and the innocent people trapped inside.
Dynamite tension explodes on screen as two consummate actors bring their best to the roles of Ryder and Garber. Oscar winning Denzel Washington (American Gangster) plays the shell-shocked transit official caught in an unbelievable psychological power play. Cast as his opposite number, the evil genius Ryder, is none other than John Travolta (Saturday Night Fever). Few can do sleazy as good as the dancing machine and here he is in top form.
Special effects take a back seat to the interplay between Travolta and Washington who play off of each other like wild fire in this hugely entertaining action flick masterfully directed by Tony Scott. Smart, exciting and quite realistic The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 also offers good secondary casting through the smart use of James Gandolfini, Luis Guzman and John Turturro. Rousing from start to finish The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is well worth taking a ride to theatres for.
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