Monday, 3 May 2010

Film Review: THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3 (2009)

Director: Tony Scott
Running time: 106 mins (approx)
Certificate (UK): 15

UK Release Date: 31st July 2009

Watched on DVD Monday 3rd May 2010.


This is a remake of the 1974 film The Taking of Pelham One Two Three which starred Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw as the two main protagonists. This, updated version, changes aspects the story to fit modern tastes, but the guts of it are the same. I’ll try not to do a direct comparison with the original, partly because I haven’t seen it in a very long time, and partly because I don’t think it’s fair.

Walter Garber is an official of the MTA who, as punishment for accepting a bribe, has been demoted to dispatcher. Towards the end of his shift he notices that a train has become stationary in a tunnel. Calling the driver he gets no reply. Eventually, it becomes clear that a gang of hijackers, lead by a man known as Ryder has taken the train. It eventually separates and one car moves a few hundred yards down the tunnel. Left to negotiate with Ryder, Garber forms a kind of rapport with the hijacker. Ryder demands ten million dollars within an hour or he will start to shoot the hostages. The mayor is informed and he arranges for the money to be prepared. It’s clear that Ryder is quite volatile and when the police negotiator, Camonetti, tries to take over he shoots one of the hostages. A sniper accidentally shoots the hijacker’s driver, Phil Ramos, and another hostage is killed. Eventually the money arrives and Garber is told he must deliver it, putting him face to face with Ryder. I’ll leave my summary there, don’t want to give the ending away!

It’s a very well made film with some good dialogue and very good performances from both of the major stars. So, special mentions for both Denzel Washington as Walter Garber and John Travolta as Ryder. Honourable mentions go to Luis Guzm├ín as Phil Ramos, John Turturro as Camonetti and James Gandolfini as the Mayor.

One of the main problems I had with this film was the cinematography. In one scene we are meeting the mayor for the first time and the camera keeps moving round and around him, it made me feel dizzy! There were also a couple of plot holes that didn’t help. But for all that it’s pretty entertaining stuff. For the most part it kept me gripped, although it did start to drag a little towards the end. Over all, not bad: recommended.

My score: 6.8/10

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