Movie Review: Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

Movie Review: Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

3.5 Lloyds

Rated R for violence and pervasive language.
Running Time: 2 hours 1 minute


A New York City subway dispatcher pulls on his extensive knowledge of the subway system in order to outsmart a dangerous criminal mastermind who’s hijacked a subway train.

Walter Garber, played by Denzel Washington, was drifting through his daily routine when he received word that a heavily armed gang of four hijacked a subway train and are holding all of the passengers hostage. Led by a master thief named Ryder, played by John Travolta, the gunmen will start executing everyone on board unless the authorities deliver a sizable ransom in the space of just one hour.

With the tension in the tunnels on the rise, Walter races to save the hostages before the shooting starts. But, through it all, there’s one part of Ryder’s plan Walter can’t figure out…

Even if the thieves succeed in getting their money…
How will they get out of the tunnels undetected?

Hollywood Remakes Continue!

This is definately an edgier version of the 1974 thriller of the same name which starred Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is inspired by John Godey’s best-selling book. This time around, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 pits Denzel Washington and John Travolta together in the starring roles of this subway thriller.

From a production standpoint, director Tony Scott has some interesting effects to grab your attention along the way. The movie begins with a number of stop-action shots. At first you may wonder why the technique is used so often in the opening minutes of the movie. But, if you watch closely, it’s a very clever use of the technique. Most of the stop shots focus on various people singled out in a crowd. Through this technique, Scott is giving us a quick glimpse and snapshot of the people who will later become involved in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 storyline. Watch closely as the movie starts and you will then be able to identify some of the key players, and even minor players, in the movie.

For the most part, the special effects when it comes to camera work were impressive, and not over done. Shots of the front of the subway car focusing on Travolta and one of his partners through the car windows added an intriguing effect throughout. But, in the midst of what was an overall effective production, the elongated police scene of cruisers and motorcycles speeding through the streets of New York City, was simply overdone. After all, this is a movie about a subway, not a car chase. But then again, it did provide for the obligatory fast car and big crashes quota.

A few other scenes were overdone as well. Some of the background blurring while focusing on a main character was dizzying, as was a continuous circling of a helicopter around New York City. We get the picture, the police helicopter was circling. We didn’t have to see it 5 or 6 times. That did nothing more than make me feel air-sick.

Over all, I’d have to say the most surprising part of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 revolves around the language. This of course is not a family-friendly movie as it carries an R rating for what’s described as violence and pervasive language. As a result, when I screened the movie, I really went in wondering if my senses would be pounded with excessive violence and endless profanity. I’m happy to say, for an R rated movie, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is rather balanced when it comes to violence and cursing. This is an intense movie, dealing with an intense situation. But, the filmmakers did not overdue either aspect of the situation.

John Travolta is once again stellar in his role as Ryder. He’s come a long way since Vinnie on Welcome Back Kotter or The Boy In The Bubble. Travolta once again reveals that he is a verstile actor with the ability to play pretty much any role that comes along. As for Denzel Washington, his soft-spoken even tempered personality shines in his role as Garber. Then, when you place Travolta and Washington together, the chemisty and dynamics of the movie spring right off the screen.

When all is said and done, even though the police car scene was long and some of the shots re-run a few times too often, I was riveted to my seat and glued to the screen for The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. It’s a movie with enough action and breathing space that you’re not tired out when it’s finished.

In the end, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is an action packed movie, asking the question – What is a real hero?

Enjoy the show!
Dr. Rus

About the Author

Dr. Rus has 30+ years experience in the field of communication. He takes this experience, and his passion to encourage others to positively effect their environment, when providing insight and movie reviews.