The Taking of Pelham 123 (English)
Cast: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, John Turturro, Luis Guzman, Michael Rispoli, James Gandolfini
Director: Tony Scott
Tony Scott is known for adrenalin-charged, testosterone-driven action films such as Top Gun, Crimson Tide, Enemy of the State and also some stylish clunkers such as “Domino” and Deja Vu.
Scott does not disappoint this time either with this high-voltage film.
A remake of the 1974 film starring Robert Shaw and Walter Matthau, based on a novel by John Godey and directed by Joseph Sargent, The Taking of Pelham 123 talks of an audacious hijack of a New York subway car.
Walter Matthau’s character, Lt. Zachary Garber, is split into two characters, subway dispatcher Walter Garber (the Walter is in homage to Matthau) and NYPD hostage negotiator Camonetti.
Garber is in the dock pending an investigation into a bribery scandal when his day is turned upside down by the hijack.
The chief hijacker, Ryder, wishes to talk only to Garber and threatens to kill a hostage every minute unless his demand of ten million dollars in an hour is met.
Like all Scott films this one is high on style and adrenalin. One would have thought with all the action crammed into a subway car, there would not be much space for manoeuvrability.
However, Scott has circumvented the handicaps with ease, moving the action from the car to the operations room and also following the money on its frantic sprint through the city.
The soundtrack with thrumming guitar riffs just adds to the excitement while the razor-sharp editing spliced with some cool slo-mos and the grungy palette, all dizzily combine to create the ultimate guy film.
There is also some homoerotic bonding what with single solitaire ear studs but let’s not go there.
The script has been updated to include video chat and Google but that’s about it.
Saving the best for the last, the cast absolutely rocks. Denzel Washington, with his easy smile and sparkling earring stalks the screen like a lithe panther in the character of Garber.
John Travolta has such fun playing the bad guy and here he comfortably hits all the buttons to make for a delightfully-wicked Ryder squinting meaningfully at his Breitling watch — how is that for some product placement?
John Turturro is dependable as ever as the hostage negotiator.
The film with its witty one-liners, slick action and super-bankable stars provides for a happy action movie experience.