JT Film Review

23 – The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)

The Taking of Pelham 123 REVIEW

3.5/5 stars

Director – Tony Scott

Cast – Denzel Washington, John Travolta, John Turturro, Luis Guzman, James Gandolfini



Tony Scott reunites with Denzel Washington in The Taking of Pelham 123. This movie features a hostage situation in the subways beneath New York, with Denzel Washington racing agains the clock to get a sum of money to the hijacker, John Travolta, before he starts killing off passengers. The director is Tony Scott, and he is well accustomed to working with both Denzel Washington and the thriller genre. What we get here is a decent, mildly entertaining movie that, while not breaking new ground, certainly manages to hold our attention. His typical tricks such as the whizz-bang editing and streaky visuals are all put into play here. Frequent collabrator Harry Gregson-Williams does the music, and it as well could have been taken from any of his past work. The movie is good, but rarely strives for anything more.

The acting really elevates The Taking of Pelham 123 above forgetfullness. John Travolta puts in an amazing performance, I truly loved him in this. He is certainly a “bad guy”, but never goes over the top. With a better story he could have been one of the best villians we’ve seen in ages. Denzel Washington does his everyman-in-the_taking_of_pelham_123_08a-bad-situation schtick, and it works very well as usual. He has a gift for creating empathy for his characters, and with this character specifically. He is a bit overweight, gray hair creeping in. John Turturro puts in an appearance as a Hostage Negotiator, he is quite capable in the role. My favorite supporting act was James Gandolfini as the New York mayor. He is smart, down-to-earth, and likable. Most actors would have created a bossy figure, I’m glad he went this route with it.

The movie does have a ring of familiarity to it, and that’s where it loses points. We have seen this stuff before, from the Die Hard movies to, well, any urban action movie. This movie takes a fairly realistic approach though, and that redeems it.


Tony Scott’s work here is good, but rarely strives for anything more. It entertains, and is fairly smart at the same time. Unfortunately, a million other movies have been smart and entertaining in the exact same way as this. Worth a see if you’re a fan of Denzel, Travolta, Tony Scott, or action movies.



“The Taking of Pelham 123” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia



July 8, 2009 - Posted by | 3.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Thriller, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. 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!

    Comment by CMrok93 | January 30, 2011 | Reply

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