Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

The Taking of Pelham 123

 
 
 

Review by Patrick Hodges

There are just some directors that, if by chance you didn't know that they were the director of a film that you go to a theater to see, you'd pretty much know by the end of the movie, long before the credits confirm it.  Quentin Tarantino is definitely one, as it Michael Bay.  And so is Tony Scott.  The man behind such gritty street-smart action/dramas such as Man on Fire, Domino and Deja Vu can easily be identified by his speed-up/slow-down camera work, the urban jungle where he his camera-work rapidly takes us from one place to another, and the no-holds-barred chase scenes, usually involving many vehicles.
 
The Taking of Pelham 123 has all of these ingredients.  It also has Denzel Washington, stepping in front of the camera for his third collaboration with Scott (after the aforementioned Man on Fire and Deja Vu), playing the role of Walter Garber, a New York subway dispatcher who has just been demoted from a supervisory position on suspicion of bribe-taking.  What he doesn't count on is a subway car being hijacked by a band of armed men led by a man calling himself "Ryder" (John Travolta), who demands $10 million in one hour or he starts killing innocent people.
 
If you've seen "hostage" movies before, you can guess where it goes from there, and it does.  Garber and Ryder do their back-and-forth over the radio for much of the movie, each attempting to outwit the other.  This is where most of the good parts of the movie occur.  It's only when the pair meet, face-to-face, after a particularly harrowing scene involving New York traffic, that the film loses steam.  Travolta is his usually wild-eyed self, playing pretty much the same bad guy he did in Broken Arrow and Swordfish, and though his personality is just barely enough to keep the audience interested.
 
Bottom line:  as an action movie, it's passable.  It'll entertain you, but it's doubtful you'll rush to see it again, or even remember it a year from now.  As a drama, it's also passable; one certainly wouldn't expect less from anything with Denzel in it.  But if a passing grade is all you look for in a film, then hey, have a ball.  If not, wait for DVD and save a few bucks.
 
3 1/2 / 5 stars
 
 

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