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June 2009
THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123

by Wilson Morales

THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123

Distributor: Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Director: Tony Scott
Screenwriter: Brian Helgeland, based on the novel by John Godey
Cinematographer: Tobias Schliessler
Composer: Harry Gregson-Williams
Cast: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Luis Guzmán, John Turturro, James Gandolfini, Michael Rispoli, Victor Gojcaj, Robert Vata, Aunjanue Ellis
Rating: R (Violence, Profanity)



   




















Denzel Washington is back on the big screen and ready to take on the New York City transit system in 'The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3."
The Mount Vernon, N.Y., actor stars as subway dispatcher Walter Garber in the remake of this 1974 film.

Despite implausible contrivances left and right, the film moves quickly and is entertaining. Grab a seat and hold on. The movie, which is directed by Tony Scott, also stars John Travolta, James Gandolfini, John Turturro, Luis Guzman, Michael Rispoli and Aunjanue Ellis.

Walter is having a decent day, doing his job a train dispatcher, when he gets the call that will change his life. A train has been hijacked by a man named Ryder (Travolta) and his cohorts. There are 17 frightened passengers on board, and Ryder aims to kill them if a $10 million ransom doesn't arrive in an hour.

The mayor (Gandolfini) and the hostage negotiator (Turturro) allow Garber to negotiate with Ryder without major interference. When Ryder takes extreme measure to prove how serious his threats are, Garber puts his own life at risk to save the hostages.

Washington gives his all in this role, often looking meek with the extra weigh and glasses. Travolta's villainous role is just as good but stops short of being campy, and Gandolfini is convincing as he channels New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

At times, moviegoers must be willing to suspend any concept of reality to enjoy the ride, but watching Washington and Travolta try to outwit each other is certainly worth the trip.