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The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3




Released: 2009

Directed By: Tony Scott

Starring: John Travolta, Denzel Washington

Certificate: 15


Reviewed By: Richard O’Toole

An ordinary day is flipped upside down for subway dispatcher Walter Garber (Denzel Washington) when a train is hijacked in New York City. The mastermind behind the hijacking is a lunatic we come to know by the name of Ryder (John Travolta) who wants ten million dollars for the hostages he has or things will get messy. Given only one hour to organise and deliver the ransom money to Ryder, Garber is faced with a mountain of a task.

Apparently the story differs slightly from the original 1974 film, based on the novel of the same name by Morton Freedgood. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is an enjoyable watch, not particularly as thrilling as advertised, but a good watch nonetheless. The screenplay writer Brian Helgeland wastes no time in setting up the story in his modern day adaptation, before we know it we’re deep in the chaotic drama that is unfolding. I find hostage thrillers always raise the same questions: what is the motive behind it all? How do the terrorists plan on escaping? And finally, who’s going to die?

The true saving grace of this feature is the performances given by Denzel Washington and John Travolta which are, as we have to come to expect from these two big screen veterans, flawless. Especially Travolta, who seems to shine even brighter when given a madman role and plays Ryder, the crazy trigger-happy Catholic, with ease. Washington is once again solid, giving an emotional and passionate performance as the subway dispatcher in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Directed by Tony Scott, whose work includes classics such as Top Gun, Man On Fire and Enemy of The State. The director continues his use of choppy editing in full effect. Though, for me personally a huge negativity with the film is the continuous use of time-lapse. Tony Scott must be in love with that particular type of filming at the moment, as he uses it at every given possibility. Any time there’s a train, car or helicopter on the move you can guarantee that it’s going to be filmed using the time-lapse technique. I am by no means a hater of the technique but it really wasn’t needed in this genre of film, if anything for me, it killed whatever suspense was built during a chase scene, by literally stopping the fluidity of it.

Apart from this minor downside The Taking of Pelham 123 is a great way to fill one hour and forty-two minutes of your day and should definitely be watched at least once.

Fan of ‘John Travolta’? MM review for ‘Pulp Fiction’


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