By Jack Rico
Rated: R for violence and pervasive language.
Release Date: 2009-06-12
Starring: Brian Helgeland
Official Website: http://www.catchthetrain.com/
“The Taking of Pelham 123” is good summer film fare, but it isn’t great. Not that this is a bad thing. The only reason you should go out and see this film is if you are a fan of either Denzel Washington or John Travolta, and are looking for some respectable acting. Otherwise, the action sequences are scant, and even though the premise is captivating, some implausible moments occur that deter you from investing too much of your time and brain power.
Denzel Washington stars as New York City subway dispatcher Walter Garber, whose ordinary day is thrown into chaos by an audacious crime: the hijacking of a subway train. John Travolta stars as Ryder, the criminal mastermind who, as leader of a highly-armed gang of four, threatens to execute the train’s passengers unless a large ransom is paid within one hour. As the tension mounts beneath his feet, Garber employs his vast knowledge of the subway system in a battle to outwit Ryder and save the hostages. But there’s one riddle Garber can’t solve: even if the thieves get the money, how can they possibly escape? That is what the film is all about.
If you ever had the chance to see the original ‘The Taking of Pelham 123’ with Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw, you’ll see in this new version that there are many changes to the storyline. Director Tony Scott, who we spoke to in New York before the release of the film, commented how this project is not a remake but a new movie altogether. The changes do make the film better, but there is something to be said about the tone of the original that made it a good watch. Nevertheless, both stand on their own as good films, not great.
Latin actors Luis Guzman and Ramon Rodriguez played role characters and had some visible screen time, but not enough to for me to engage you in this particular review.
If I had to pick from the original and the new version to watch tonight, I’d go with the new one, because it provides more entertainment than the first. It won’t blow your mind away, but it’ll keep it from getting bored.