Okay, so this isn't as tense and gritty as the original and has something of the shallowness of today's usual Hollywood output, but when view against some of the rubbish out there today the remake of Pelham 123 is a reasonable film.
On the negative side, the characters are not developed and the relationship between Travolta and Washington is never really scrutinised.
On the positive side, Travolta is a great psychopath playing the role of baddy in a similar manner to Swordfish, and although there are a few unnecessary explosions and crashes the special effects are reined in and are not allowed to dominate the film.
Overall I'd give this 3 stars, worth a watch when its on TV but not worth buying as a DVD as it's not a watch-again film. If you do want to buy a DVD then, like the other reviewers say, the original is a classic good enough to make them want to re-make it.
Tony Scott's take on the well respected Joseph Sargent/Walter Matthau 1974 film a brave attempt but it comes up a little short in a few ways.
Cast wise Denzel Washington plays Walter Garber (the original was Zachary, but a nod to Matthau's performance taking his first name) John Travolta steps into the Mr. Blue shoes, contrasting the Robert Shaw performance.
Both try their best, though Travolta does go a bit overboard with the drama at times. Washington's performance is quite good (but it lacks the wit and edge of Matthau's) and the supporting cast are decent enough James Gandolfini as the Major. The problems though are numerous despite Scott's attempts at some fancy camera work (which can be annoying at times) he can't make up for the rather pedestrian script, obvious storyline with few surprises and the actors just don't have the same vibe that the 1974 film does. Even the soundtrack pales next to the original.
It's not all bad news, if you can forget the 1974 film was ever made (or have not seen it) it's not a terrible film and passes the time it's not a turn it off horrible production. It fails to really take off for me the edge isn't there (despite the contrast of the two lead actors, Washington is a little too calm at times) Then we come to the ending, a real corker on the 1974 film, here they have slipped into a very predictable and obvious ending, which isn't a patch on the first one.
Not bad, but really if you want to watch a real action thriller order the Matthau version it's hand down a better film, that one is taut edgy, with an great cast and good script...one of those films that just works brilliantly (everything comes together smoothly in a way some productions just do). Sadly this version is yet another release that falls into the "please don't try to remake outstanding films" seems the message has yet to sink in at the film studios.
John Travolta shines in this film by Tony Scott, making the role of 'Ryder' his own alongside a strong supporting cast who are all excellent. However, there's lots of holes in this film. The question is though: does that really matter?
The answer is no. Although there's a lot of them, the plot holes are only little, they don't spoil your enjoyment, and at the end of the day, what we really want from this film is guns and excitement - and on that level, the film delivers.
It's a hostage film. It's that simple - nothing happens in it to make it stand out from the pack and to be honest - just off the top of my head - any of the 'Die hard' films are better Die Hard Quadrilogy - Die Hard Quadrilogy - Die Hard/Die Hard 2/Die Hard With A Vengeance/Die Hard 4.0 [DVD]; but the thing is we've seen them all 100 times. If you want a flick with a similar theme then the 'taking' of this DVD or Blur-Ray is probably a pretty good bet.
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on 8 January 2010
Although I did enjoy Tony Scott's latest effort, I can't see its simple plot and characters rewarding repeated viewings. Everything is exactly as described, there are no surprises in the story, no clever plot twists, and no interesting exposures of the main characters personas. Oddly, as I'm used to watching convoluted thrillers nowadays, I found myself trying to second guess from the moment the film started where the curve balls were, but after about 45 minutes of saying to myself "Ah...he REALLY is going to do that..." or "so that WAS true then...", I started to get wise to the idea and realised that the only surprise was there were no surprises. In the end, this is rather unsatisfying. The finale, where a plot twist is normally de riguer for a thriller, is a real let down.
Washington and Travolta, along with an excellent supporting cast, actually put in very strong performances (more than the film deserves I think), although Travolta does descend into pantomime on a couple of occasions. Tony Scott's direction is more excitable than usual, and although the many fast cuts and swooshing pans are fun to watch (I particularly enjoyed the thrilling opening sequence), they are soon in danger of becoming migraine inducing as the film progresses. The script is generally strong, but becomes weak during the exchanges between Washington and Travolta where it really needed to bite, very odd.
Image quality is exactly what we should expect from a modern BRD release; superb, with plenty of detail and a realistic level of grain (helping to add an accurate cinematic texture). The soundtrack is even more impressive, with good spacial separation and deep bass where required. Music is also intelligently used, and there is plenty going on in the surrounds during the action scenes.
I can't see anybody wishing to actually own this release, unless they are big Travolta or Washington fans. There's just not enough depth to the story or characters to justify watching it more than once. I recommend renting it first.
on 16 May 2015
Four armed men hijack a subway train in Manhattan. They stop on a slight incline, decoupling the first car to let the rest of the train coast back.
Their leader is Ryder; he connects by phone with Walter Garber, the dispatcher watching that line. Garber is a supervisor temporarily demoted while being investigated for bribery.
Ryder demands $10 million within an hour, or he'll start shooting hostages. He'll deal only with Garber.
The mayor okays the payoff, the news of the hostage situation sends the stock market tumbling, and it's unclear what Ryder really wants or if Garber is part of the deal.
I thought the original was okay, but not a masterpiece as many people say, the ending was good though......Sue me. I love Scott movies, because they offer a lot of the time, big bangs and a couple of hours in a cinema, where you can switch off and enjoy some flashy editing.
Now with this movie, where most of the action is 'talking' via an intercom, you wouldn't expect a lot of flashy editing would you? think again, this has more than any other re-make (hee hee) this year.
But the main point of this film is to see Travolta in Face/Off mode once more, and while he is considerably menacing, even with a handle bar moustache, he feels more Dr. Evil than truly evil.
The banter between the two leads is good, but not as good when you consider the screenplay is by Helgeland. There is way too much swearing from Travolta, and a silly sub-plot involving wall street, is sniffed at.
So basically it's Washingtons straight man to the over acting of Travolta, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but then there are so many plot holes and bad lines in the film, that they cannot be ignored, and thus, make the film irritating.
Not your typical Tony Scott movie.
If you Love Travolta circa Face/off, and Washington as the everyman, there is something in it....just
on 16 April 2011
This film provides most of what you want in a bog standard action flick, and in the case, it certainly delivers, but in certain areas it does fall short.
Denzel Washington takes the lead role, in this film the "negotiator" with the terrorists; whilst John Travolta is the main "villain".
The plot is about a group of four men who hijack a train with hostages and demand 10 million dollars. As it all unravels we find out more about the real reasons behind the hijack and what is to come of it, it has moments of suspense, the time clocking down with Denzel desperately trying to talk his way into the police getting more time. There is some great dialogue passed back and forth, and some great action scenes, but besides that the film was lacking.
The most cringe worthy thing about the film was the god awful attempt at comedy. Certain parts, for some unknown reason, it was felt necessary to make poor jokes, this took away from the film, talk about getting a gallon or half of a gallon of milk just didn't seem relevant to the plot, it was there as a conversation between Denzel and his wife in the film as a way of saying "come home safe" but the added conversation about the quantity of milk seemed to take away from what could have been a very well done moment.
Also there was gaping plot holes, I don't want to go into too much, but a stroke of luck it seems happened at the end. Also minor things like the gun changing, but that wasn't too relevant.
I hope I haven't left a really negative impression, Denzel put in a fairly decent performance with John Travolta being extremely dynamic and engaging, the film delivered what you wanted, but with a massive budget it didn't quite fill the expectations.
Worth a watch, quality very good on Blu-Ray, hope I helped.
on 29 September 2010
Remakes, reboots and reimaginings are the stock and trade of the modern Hollywood. Why bother to think of something new, when you can just rehash something old in HD? Having seen many, many, remakes in the past few years my knowledge of the original films range from very well, to non-existent. `The Taking of Pelham 123' falls into the non-existent category as I didn't even know such a film was made! The plot follows the day of Denzel Washington's train dispatcher Walter Garber and John Travolta's urban terrorist Ryder. Ryder hijacks a train and holds the city to ransom.
The film is directed by Tony Scott and this will fill some film fans with trepidation, as he has the habit of creating overblown films like `Domino' and `Déjà Vu'. However, I think that he is the better of the two Scott brothers as his films are designed to be fun, and they invariably are. `Pelham 123' is a fast paced thriller with solid performances by Washington and Travolta. The fact that aging eccentric Travolta is an all action bad guy doesn't sit well at the start, but he wins you over by the end. The usual fast editing is on offer and Scott's love of slow mo sweeping shots - I find them kind of cute! He is also the type of director that makes BluRay look good as his colourful shots pop off the screen.
In all, `Pelham 123' is a solid action thriller that entertains for 90 minutes, but is incredibly filmy i.e. you know what is going to happen from the first ten minutes. As a piece of throwaway fluff it passes the time and the extras are good value. The `making of' is particularly good as, although a puff piece, it highlights Scott's love of research before shooting.
on 27 May 2010
On it's release in UK Tony Scott was at great pains to underline that this was not a remake but actually a new filem because, he believed that they had entirely re-imagined the characters and story. This just made him look like a concieted idiot once we had seen it and confirmed that if was a remake with the obvious variations in ployt that a remake requires to give it any point. Under Scott's view (which was at bes disingenuous) Alfred Hitchcock did not remake either The Man Who Knew Too Much or The 39 Steps the latter of which has had a further film remake and a British televison remake each of which very clearly required plot variation to give the audience any incenmtive to watch them as some vague ambiguity at the very least is required to get people to watch a suspense thriller. This film clearly did no more than was required os 39 steps in any of it's remakes. The realy annoying thing that this film does that repeats the sin that killed the Robert De Niro remake of the excellent 1961 film Cape Fear [DVD]  stone dead was by blurring the line betwwen the "good guys" and "bad guys". Cape Fear relied on the notion of the totaly straight and law abiding Gregory Pack character being pushed to breaking the law to protact his innocent daughter and wife, where the remake made that character one who had perjured himself and his daughter a sexually knowing and drawn to the De Niro character. This defused any dramatic tension in the story and made the audience not really care so much about what happened. In This move the Denzel Washington character is similarly tainted and the way the John Travolta character uses and reveals this information makes absolutely no sense. He sees Washington as being similarly victimised so why should he force his exposure to the authorities who victimised him, and who his grudes is against. The variations in the story have just not be thought through properly.
I was very disappointed as I was such a fan of the original movie but also really admire Denzel Wasdhington. In a rather pathetic, but very "Hollywood", attempt to give the role some sort of imagined gravitas much was made of Washington's need to gain a lot of weight to play this part. This seemed utterly unnecessary and served oly to undermine the actor's credibility which, fortunately for him is considerable but much more of this kind of markeyting stunt and that wil quickly errode.
This movie is okay and there are some good bits in it but the 1974The Taking Of Pelham 123 [DVD]  was so much better and yoiu should buy that instead.
There's no delay in getting to the action with The Taking of Pelham 123, within the first few moments the scene is set and a gang have a train hi-jacked along with a carriage full of captive hostages. It's clear that Ryder, the main perpetrator, is an intelligent man wielding a fair amount of technology - it's not going to be a simple day at the office for control room operator Walter Garber...
Denzel Washington plays man on the other end of the phone when negotiations begin with the hijackers. He's not a trained negotiator though, he's a regular bloke trying to settle back into his job after a hiatus. Denzel gives the sort of performance you expect from him, he captures the character and manages to inject a bit of his own personality into the role. The result is a character you can't help but like, and when he is forced to admit something he is ashamed of and clearly quite uncomfortable talking about, you don't judge him, you empathise with him. The character feels real and he is the strongest element of the film.
In direct comparison - Ryder is a tad 2-dimensional. You can tell that he's meant to have depth but it doesn't quite work. You can see the attempts to portray him as philosophical unhinged genius, whereas he actually comes across like a stereotypical `baddie' and from the things he says you can start to guess how it will all end. You can see through the slick dialogue and gun waving, there's not much underneath it.
This is a thriller which introduces a spatter of action too, it flows well and makes sense even if it doesn't always engage you. The clever aspect to the film is how it enables both Ryder and Garber to see how similar they are in many ways, but it isn't utilised enough. Both men have done wrong and broken the law (quite obvious in the case of Ryder who is violently holding people against their will and demanding 10 million dollars!) but they both have a very opposing moral outlook.
In a nutshell: The Taking of Pelham 123 has been made several times now but I can't help but wonder what this film adds, it's a modern update and it's adequate without being anything special. There's no doubt that Denzel steals the show and he carries the film whereas Travolta's Ryder feels almost like a cartoon character - a manic caricature. The ending is meant to be climactic; the clashing of two men who have been forced to build up an awkward relationship, but it just felt a bit flat. There's not enough tension and when it is there, it's soon forgotten.
on 9 June 2010
The story is simple - bad guy John Travolta and pals hijack a train in the subway and hold the city to ransom - do they get the money - yes they do - do they get to spend the money - buy the DVD and find out. I remember watching the original of this story and maybe that is why I was a bit let down with this version.I think that I was expecting more. If you haven't seen the original then this is a good movie. Denzel Washington and John Travolta play their parts well and it is a good movie to kill a couple of hours with on a rainy night.