The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) Review


Walter Garber just happened to be working on dispatch on the New York City subway when armed men led by Ryder hijack a train and he ends up becoming the negotiator and the only person Ryder will speak to and trust.


The Taking of Pelham 123 is a pretty thrilling film which I find impressive when you think really it doesn’t have a massive amount of things going on. A subway train hijacked and exchanges between two men, but the way in which Washington and Travolta work together certainly makes this film impressive. Then throwing the brilliant Gandolfini into the mix as the Mayor gives it another level. If it wasn’t for these performances though it would be a very weak film. Travolta does bad guys very very well, and he is very engaging as Ryder, so much so that we actually start to understand why he is doing it and feel a little bit sorry for him.

The pressure Ryder places on Walter Garber is pretty extreme. A man who had been high up in the organisation until recently when it was suspected that he took a bribe when on a business trip looking at trains. This was something Ryder could then use against him, and testing his morals in order to safe the people on the train. This certainly showed the character of Garber wanting to try to help everyone as much as possible. Like I actually love that character, Denzel is brilliant and I could not help but just really like and emphasise with him.

The actual scenes on the Subway are pretty impressive and make you feel uneasy as the hostages have no idea what exactly is going to happen to them. A computer link with live footage is placed online when an internet connection is made for the bad guys. As with any hijack/heist film someone was on the other side and in this one that was Phil Ramos. It takes quite a while for the police to piece everything together but Ryder only wants to talk to Garber, who is coaches very quickly by the negotiator these are pretty interesting scenes really.

I did enjoy the level of suspense built up in this one and as I mentioned earlier this really is to do with the performances and cast put together with Tony Scott directing. Like any Scott action/thriller we certainly get plenty of that with no holds barred in terms of violence. That is something that needs to be in this type of film really as it makes it feel a little bit more real. The suspense aspect is very good as well in the build up to the deadline and demands being hit. Not always the easiest when it’s in New York City!

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