The Taking of Pelham 123 Review

June 17, 2009 at 5:11 pm (Movies)

Thank God there’s no subway system in my home town (that I know of), however there are a few people that I’ve met that resemble John Travolta in the new hostage thriller, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. While on the outside it may appear like a formulaic filler in what could be considered a slow part for the summer movie season, Pelham will keep you breathless from (all pun intended) Point A to Point B thanks to stellar performances, a sleek style, and some breakneck editing and pacing that screams summer movie. The story takes place over a 2 to 3 hour time span, during which Denzel Washington fulfills his role as Garber, a regular schmo with some what of a checkered past but a good heart, gets thrown into a tempest of a hostage situation. The mastermind behind said subway takeover is none other than a felon known as Ryder, or in my mind, this summer’s Joker, portrayed by John Travolta. Travolta absolutely perfects the mind set of a man on a hell bent mission to expose the corruption of New York and to give the city a run for its money. While Denzel, as always, delivers as the level-headed negotiator/hero, the true worth of admission is John Travolta’s demented take on the handlebar mustached antagonist. Travolta goes above and beyond with a deep, charismatic, brutally violent, and sometimes haunting, yet brilliant take. Not only that, but he’s a guy that loves to swear and call people mother f-ers. Hardly ever before have I found myself so engrossed and tapping my foot to a movie, let alone its opening credits like I did in Pelham 1 2 3. Thanks to Tony Scott’s lauded (by some) editing style, soundtrack choice, and visual take, he livened up the film and had me glued to the screen. The often freeze frames, spiral shots, and quick motion shots were a beauty to see on screen and kept what is normally a tired concept vivid with a beautiful color scheme on and off the train, eerily comparable to what can be seen on the poster. On the train hints of blues and blacks fill the area in a haunting light. Outside, oranges and reds provoke other senses. Also, thanks to Travolta and gang, the movie takes on a gritty, real sense of action. Every gunshot leading to the final climax carries some serious weight and some serious moral consequences with it. Tony Scott really presents this entire movie appropriately as a speeding train, constantly racing. The movie starts with several quick shots, and for the next 2 hours flies between tense hostage moments, some vivid pans, then quickly breaks up the pace with some sort of outside movement to break up the monotony. However, this can also be viewed as a curse. The pacing can feel pretty ADD at times, and won’t please everyone. There were times I wanted to stay on the train, but it switched on too quickly. And while Travolta perfects the villain persona, and I did laugh the first few times, his excessive use of certain 4 letter words that begin with f  began to wear on my nerves. If you’ve ever seen a movie that follows this kinda style, you know how this movie ends. I won’t spoil it, but one can’t ignore the tad sense of formula present here that’s been used a billion times. Overall, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 could have been a routine practice in monotony, however with a standout performance by Travolta and a vivid style and unique pacing, Tony Scott has hit the mark by crafting a classic concept into a incredibly well-fit summer movie. 

4 out of 5



  1. darkcloak said,

    Great Movie. Not sure if I want to buy it though.

  2. earlman27 said,

    It was really really good. I was afraid I wouldn’t like it. The special features are gonna make it or break it to me.

  3. CMrok93 said,

    If the trademark Scott gloss serves as a superficial hook, his also-adept manner of building tension and suspense then keeps one interested. Good review, check out mine when you can!

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