Movie Review: The Taking of Pelham 123


In the movie Denzel Washington plays a NYC subway dispatcher Walter Garber who was assigned to the Rail Control Center, due to an ongoing investigation that he took a bribe to recommend a Japanese car manufacturer for the next subway car contract.  Unknown to him, this day was about to turn into complete chaos with him right in the middle of it all. Four heavily armed men, led by Bernard Ryder (John Travolta), board the New York City subway 6 train departed from Pelham Bay Park Station at 1:23 p.m., and proceed to take control of it. The group then uncoupled the front car from the rest of the train and held the passengers in this front car hostage. Ryder and a former MTA train operator named Ramos settle down in the front of the car, while the other hijackers watch the hostages in the back. They demand $10 million in ransom money to be paid within an hour or they start killing the hostages. Garber and Ryder exchange conversations through the microphone, while his men set up a wi-fi booster apparatus to enable Ryder to access his laptop in the tunnel to watch the stock market plunge nearly 1,000 points during the next hour.

Unknown to him, one of the male passengers has an active laptop with a webcam, that was casually knocked to the floor, facing the car’s interior previously when they took their hostages, which simultaneously reconnects using that same wi–fi link; reestablishing the feed to his girlfriend’s desktop with whom he was videochatting; when she returns to her PC, she sees the hostage situation through her webcam and provides the live feed to a local television station. Here I started to get real irritated with the girlfriend, she keeps talking to her boyfriend demanding him to tell her he loves her when…well…he’s pre-occupied trying to stay alive! At one point in the movie one of the hijackers saw the laptop on the floor and when made the effort to scare the girlfriend but it puzzled me that he didn’t even make a move to punish the boyfriend or so much as destroy the laptop..weird!

The Mayor (James Gandolfini) agreed to pay the ransom while waiting for the money to be collected, Ryder talks to Garber. Through his internet connection he googled Garber’s name and found that about the alleged bribery and forces him to confess by holding the boy with the laptop at gunpoint, saying the reason for taking the money was to pay for his kids college education but that the Japanese company was his first choice anyway. While the police stand down in the tunnel, a rat on the roadbed crawls up an officer’s leg, causing him to discharge his sniper rifle, killing Ramos, who was sitting in the motorman’s position and aggravating the situation even further.  Ryder demands Garber to personally deliver it within 7 minutes. Garber calls his wife to inform her about his new responsibility, in order to save the hostages, but she cares only for his own safety. She makes him promise to pick up some milk on the way home, because he must come home safely.

Well, basically, that is the plot of the story. The rest of the film is best seen and not read.


Watching this movie reiterates to me why I love John Travolta and why I adore Denzel Washington movies; then to have the two of them in was awesome! I mean the story wasn’t all that great, it has none of the depth you would unconsciously expect from a film which stars Denzel Washington, though is has all the drama, suspense-filled feel of a John Travolta movie. The plot needs a lot more to be desired but the acting of the two stars certainly made up for it, and even made the movie worth watching. The suspense was simply something you would definitely expect from Tony Scott. Rotten Tomato rated this as 52% fresh…well, anyways very few action movies are ever rated high by this review site. Though, I must say the movie was anti-climatic…after watching it you get the feel that something’s missing or you go something like “that’s it?!”


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