Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Imperial Swordsman
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
  Taking of Pelham 123, The Off The Rails
Year: 2009
Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Luis Guzmán, Victor Gojcaj, John Turturro, Michael Rispoli, Ramon Rodriguez, James Gandolfini, John Benjamin Hickey, Alex Kaluzhsky, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Katherine Sigismond, Jake Richard Siciliano, Jason Butler Harner
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: The New York subway system on another ordinary day, or so it seems until one man (John Travolta) goes up to the Pelham 123 train and pulls a gun on the driver, giving him orders to allow one other man (Luis Guzmán) to join him in the cab as he goes and steps into the carriage. They're not the only ones in on this plan, as the authorities are about to find out when the control room notices that while Pelham 123 has departed from the station, for some reason it has stopped in the middle of a tunnel. Not only that, but the carriages have separated, though before the supervisor can send any staff to take a look, gunfire is heard - this is a hijack.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is one of the finest and best-loved thrillers of the nineteen-seventies, and while it had been remade before, as a TV movie in the nineties, this Tony Scott-directed version was the remake that received the attention. But not for very long, as it became clear it was a pale shadow of the original, in spite of a script by Brian Helgeland which drew from the bestselling John Godey novel, the trouble being that while Walter Matthau and company had provided sardonic humour and gritty suspense in their adaptation, here everything was strictly by the numbers in a typical high concept, low excitement flick.

It's not as if Scott appeared to have found anything in his version which was an improvement over the first one - early on, when Travolta's hijacker, calling himself Ryder, is described as treating his hostages like commodities, that's precisely what the filmmakers here are doing with their film as nothing in it has had any thought to it other than to make a bit of cash out of a cult classic that its potential audience might have caught on television, or at least heard the of premise somewhere. It's not easy to find material with two leading man roles for stars who are moving into middle age, and so this Pelham 123 is merely a vehicle for two ageing tough guys to go through the motions.

To its credit, the storyline it uses does not slavishly follow the original, and does try to find something different to do, so even if you've seen that previous effort then you won't know what is going to happen in this - except you could have a decent guess and probably be right. There's nothing of the ingenuity and delight at the surprises Matthau's Garber pulled here, so what you have instead is a selection of largely unilluminating character business to fill up the time between something actually occuring that might move the plot forward. Far too long is spent with Garber and Ryder yakking over the radio, and we find out to no great advantage that Garber is on a corruption charge, to make a comparison with the two men.

But of course Denzel Washington's leading man will come out looking far better than Travolta's bad guy, so all of this personality clashing comes to naught and merely makes the viewer impatient. James Gandolfini has a bit of fun as the mayor who doesn't really care that much, or so it seems, but John Turturro is wasted in a bland suit role as the lawman in charge of the operation to stop Ryder in his tracks, if you'll pardon the pun. Nods to the twenty-first century include one of the passengers having a webcam connection to his girlfriend, who naturally chooses to broadcast the crime to the nation, but even that doesn't go anywhere other than assisting the police in identifying the criminals, something the filmmakers are under the false impression we are particularly interested in. What we wanted was a tricksy thriller, what we got was nearly two hours of undemanding stodge, with Garber irksomely shrugging off the ending and not even knowing the difference between milk and orange juice. Music by Harry Gregson-Williams.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 4637 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Tony Scott  (1944 - 2012)

British-born director Tony Scott was the brother of director Ridley Scott and worked closely with him in their production company for film and television, both having made their names in the advertising business before moving onto glossy features for cinema. He shocked Hollywood by committing suicide by jumping from a bridge in Los Angeles for reasons that were never disclosed.

His first high profile film was vampire story The Hunger, but it was with his second, Top Gun, that he really arrived and became much sought after for his highly polished style with Beverly Hills Cop II following soon after. He hit a blip with his next two films, the flops Revenge and Days of Thunder, but found his feet once again in The Last Boy Scout, Quentin Tarantino's True Romance (often judged his best work), submarine thriller Crimson Tide, The Fan, spy suspenser Enemy of the State, Spy Game, and then a run of movies starring Denzel Washington including Man on Fire, Deja Vu and Unstoppable.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M


Last Updated: