Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

  • 2009-08-13
  • By Michael Litvinsky

WASHINGTON AND TRAVOLTA: A dispatcher with a gun, a criminal with a microphone

Director: Tony Scott

"Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" is an outstanding, well-thought-out, designing and dynamic thriller with tones of action and a super-starry cast (including such monstrously famous actors as Denzel Washington and John Travolta). You can truly say that the film was made taking into consideration all the rules of a classic action-thriller: an unpredictable storyline, cunning characters, interesting and informative dialogues.

The movie starts with Walter Garber (Washington), a New York City subway dispatcher, drifting through his daily routine, when he receives a notice that four armed men have hijacked a subway train and are holding 18 passengers as hostages. Led by a charismatic and aggressive leader called Ryder (Travolta), they demand a ransom of ten million dollars cash, delivered to them, in a short period of time, just one hour, and threaten to kill one hostage per minute, if their request should be denied. The problem is that they refuse to negotiate with anyone except Garber, who is absolutely inexperinced in this sort of thing and is, naturally, not very fond of talking to criminals or being responsible for other people's lives.

Throughout the film we get to find out about the past of both Garber and Ryder, and realize the real motives of their actions. Diluted with various original supporting characters (for example Hostage Negotiator Camonetti, or the mayor of New York) and a tiny bit of grim humor, make "Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" a real adventure to watch.

Director Tony Scott has great experience in making a fantastic action-movie, and he has proven it many times with works such as the board-crushing  "Top Gun," the modern "Enemy of the State," "Domino" and "Deja Vu." The films he makes may seem a little bit unrealistic, but it isn't his main goal to show the viewer real life. With the help of minor inaccuracies he gives the viewer what the they want 's breathtaking, thrilling action on the screen. And his last work is not an exception.

The acting was at the level it was supposed to be when such actors as Travolta and Washington are  working together. A confident, solid and qualitative performance from both of them is being completed by the great work of John Turturro (Camonetti) and James Gandolfini (the mayor).
Overall, Scott has gathered a very experienced and well-qualified cast, which is probably the main reason why the film makes such a good impression. Everyone, it seems, succeeds in simply sticking to the plan and doing his or her job. The actors, the cameramen (including the director of photography Tobias Schliessler), the stuntmen and, of course, the composer Harry Gregson-Williams, morphed into a very productive team, and it is obvious that the result of their work will be more than high-grade.

By the way, the music in the film is particularly worth mentioning. It is interesting that it is so tightly combined that sometimes you just keep forgeting that it exists, but despite this, the rhythm continues to drag you inside the action on the screen.
So "Taking of Pelham 123" is a must-see for every thriller fan, and it won't disappoint you; however, it is not a highly cultural movie so it might disappoint those who are interested in seeing something more serious.

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