REVIEW: The Taking of Pelham 123

THE REMAKE of the 1974 heist movie, The Taking of Pelham 123, fails to make the most of a plot packed with potential. The original about the hijack of a New York subway train, starring Walter Mathau, is considered a cult classic. The hijackers system of

THE REMAKE of the 1974 heist movie, The Taking of Pelham 123, fails to make the most of a plot packed with potential.

The original about the hijack of a New York subway train, starring Walter Mathau, is considered a cult classic.

The hijackers' system of referring to each other as colours (Mr Blue etc) was later used by Quentin Tarantino in Reservoir Dogs and the film also inspired the indie band, Carter USM, to record The Taking of Peckham One Two Three.

The remake sees Denzel Washington playing Walter Garber, a demoted and overburdened train dispatcher, whose job is to make sure the lights are running smoothly in the Big Apple's busy subway.


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His life is disrupted when the volatile villain, Ryder (John Travolta), and his gang take over the Pelham 123 train.

Ryder calls Garber and demands a $10million ransom from New York's mayor (James Gandolfini) within the hour, otherwise he will kill one hostage for every minute the loot is late.

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Garber strikes up a relationship with the hostage-taker over the walkie-talkies after Ryder rejects the police hostage negotiator.

It is always hard to live up to expectations, particularly if the original film was rated a success. However, even if this stood alone, it would still be rather disappointing.

A cast of Hollywood heavyweights and top director Tony Scott should guarantee a winning formula - but the plot is predictable, the characters have little depth and the film fails to engage with its audience.

Garber is far too relaxed for a man who is negotiating with a gun-wielding terrorist while the hostages just seem mildly annoyed that their lives are under threat.

There are some redeeming qualities. Gandolfini is excellent as the wise-cracking mayor and the final half-hour is a rollercoaster ride of car crashes and dramatic action.

Go and see this if you want to see an average hostage action thriller. Don't bother if you need to wash your hair.

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