Film: The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
Cast includes: Denzel Washington (Training Day), John Travolta (Face/Off), John Turturro (Barton Fink), James Gandolfini (The Sopranos)
Director: Tony Scott (Man on Fire)
Genre: Drama/Thriller, remake of the 1974 version (2009)
In brief: If the subway system is the lifeblood of New York City, the MTA control center is the nerve center. Today Walter Garber mans the Lexington Avenue desk. It’s a comedown from the job he used to have, but we’ll learn more about that later. At 1:58 the Pelham 123 doesn’t seem to be moving. “Control center calling Pelham 123. Why did you stop? You’ve got green ahead.” At 2:00 the train separates… and still no answer to Garber’s call. By the time Pelham 123 answers, Garber already knows there’s trouble. They have hostages, and they’re armed.
“Do you understand commodities?” the hijacker named Ryder asks. “What's the going rate for a New York City hostage today?” It turns out to be $526,315. And there are 19 hostages, for a total of $10 million. That’s what Ryder demands. “It’s not a futures deal. This is a spot trade. What do you think is a fair time limit for this spot trade?” It doesn’t matter what Garber thinks… the time limit is one hour. It’s 2:13 now, and the city has until 3:13 to deliver $10 million. When a hostage negotiating team takes over, Ryder refuses to deal with anyone but Garber. By the way… there’s a late fee for missing the deadline… one passenger per minute.
Remaking a successful movie is not for the faint of heart. It’s best not to take on this kind of project unless you have something new to bring to it. A lot has changed since 1974, especially when it comes to technology. This smart, fast-paced remake takes full advantage of our high-tech, high-speed world. But ultimately, this is a film about the tension between the two main characters, Garber and Ryder. The performances are excellent as the stakes get higher and higher. “You may be the last friend I ever make,” Ryder says as he pulls Garber deeper and deeper into his drama.
3 popped kernels
Well-done crime thriller… excellent acting and production
Primary Audience: Young adults
Gender Appeal: Macho
Distribution: Mainstream wide release
Mood: Neither upbeat nor somber
Tempo: Pure adrenalin rush
Visual Style: High-end production
Character Development: Not that kind of film
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure entertainment