Home > 2009 Movie Reviews > The Taking of Pelham 123 Review

The Taking of Pelham 123 Review


The Taking of Pelham 123

The Taking of Pelham 123 is not the best movie, but it’s not the worst. My biggest complaint about the movie is the disappointing ending. Otherwise Pelham is quite a roller coaster ride.

My rating 3 Stars

Dennis Ford (John Travolta), a Wall Street high roller, pleaded guilty to a 3 year sentence for some type of investment fraud charge; seven years later he was finally released from prison. He pleaded for 3 years but was given 7. He must’ve been pissed! In fact, he was so pissed that he and a cell mate buddy schemed up a little plan to get even with the City of New York who had convicted him in the first place.

Dennis Ford or Ryder as he likes to be called, along with Phil Ramos his former cell mate and a former MTA conductor, devised a plan to capture one of the subway trains and taking the passengers hostage for the purpose of demanding $10 million from the city. However, Ryder’s plan also benefited from a curious side effect. During his time as an investor, he noticed that the value of the market would tank during a crisis. He thought if he had control of the crisis he would have control of the market. This little side effect would make him more money that just a measly $10 million.

Ryder’s plan was executed and the MTA traffic controllers were left scratching their heads wondering why a train had stopped in its tracks. Eventually Ryder contacts the traffic controllers and gets a hold of Walter Garber (Danzel Washington). Garber, who had just recently been demoted to controller and was about to be investigated for suspicions of taking a bribe, just happened to be at the other end of the radio when Ryder attempted to contact control. At first Garber didn’t feel comfortable talking to Ryder, he felt that someone trained as a hostage negotiator should be the one talking to him. However, Ryder liked the idea of dealing with someone like Garber, inexperienced. I don’t want to say that he trusted him, but he did prefer him over the hostage negotiator who soon took over. However, until the hostage negotiator got there, Garber dealt with him and his first of many demands. Ryder gave the city of New York exactly 60 minutes to come up with $10 million dollars. If the money was not there in 60 minutes he would kill one hostage every minute until they delivered the money.

When the hostage negotiator, Camonetti, finally arrived at the scene, he relieved Garber with his thanks and sent him home. Camonetti took over the operation. However, when he attempted to contact Ryder, all hell broke loose. Ryder was not happy. He wanted Garber back, he was only going to deal with Garber and he made that very clear. Ryder gave Camonetti 60 seconds to get him back on the line or he would kill the driver. Camonetti attempted several times to get him to change his mind, but he was not successful. The driver ended up being shot. At this point Camonetti knew the man was serious and he wasn’t going to play any games. They got Garber back after the execution, but, the police now suspected Garber and Ryder might be in cahoots. Garber’s recent demotion and his pending investigation did not help his case.

Director Tony Scott did an okay job on keeping the suspense throughout the movie. The audience will view Ryder as a real interesting monster. I thought John Travolta played a very convincing A-Hole. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Denzel. Ironically, this is very unusual. Normally, I think that Travolta is not the best actor and Denzel is great. Not in this movie. There was something odd about Denzel’s character, I couldn’t tell if he was supposed to be intelligent, naïve, nervous or what. His demeanor kept changing randomly, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. There is a moment in the movie where Denzel is confessing something to Ryder in order to prevent him from shooting another hostage, and I honestly couldn’t tell if he was lying to save the victims life or if he truly was confessing. Something was amiss and I was not too happy with that.

Unfortunately that is not the movie’s only flaw. I hated the ending of this film. These hijackers were obviously very intelligent criminals. Everything was planned out in perfect detail except for one small critical item, the escape! Without giving the ending away, the escape seemed like an afterthought as if they put all of the thinking into the actual hijack but they waited until the day of to come up with an exit plan, kind of like Iraq! This is a real shame because I was really enjoying the movie up until the hijackers began their escape, even with Denzel’s less than average performance. Overall, this wasn’t a completely bad movie. It just wasn’t Tony Scott’s best work. It’s still worth checking out, just don’t get your hopes up.

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