The Taking of Pelham 123 is a remake of the 1974 movie of the same name and screenwriter John Helgeland (Mystic River, Assasins) has rendered an efficient rework keeping in mind the vagaries of the present day.
Tough-as-nails Ryder (Travolta) and his cronies hijack a Pelham train and want $10 million to free the hostages. His call gets through to subway dispatcher Walter Garber (Washington) who negotiates with him. And as time gets by, the NYPD swings into action to get the booty to the criminal within the given 60 minutes but simultaneously suspicion is mounting on the dispatcher whose trial on bribe charges is pending. A professional hostage negotiater (Turturro) and NYC Mayor (Gandolfini) try to salvage the situation but cannot, and it’s all upto Garber to “keep the casualities as low as possible”.
The Taking of Pelham 123 starts off as any hijacker-hostage saga, but soon exploits the psyche of Ryder who has a lot on his heart. While keeping his intentions in place, Ryder is not kidding when he wants his money on time, even killing the motorman to prove his point, but takes a liking to Garber, wanting to know more about his personal life and tries to link his life to his own as someone misunderstood by the system. And while most of the movie hovers around the art of negotiating, it doesn’t for a moment lose its suspense and torrid pace.
Inspite of able actors like John Turturro and James Gandolfini, Taking of Pelham 123 belongs to John Travolta and Denzel Washington. Travolta adds a certain zing to his negative character, unlike what we’ve seen in Face Off or Broken Arrow. Washington as a lowkey, “unsure of himself” regular Joe is fitting.
Worth a watch on any day.