Friday, July 03, 2009

THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3 (2009) - full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

For all its hi-fi sets, frenetic chase scenes, shouted ultimatums and heavyweight cast, THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3 is a movie that fails to engage. It's like the TRANSFORMERS 2 of heist movies - so full of high-voltage action shots that plot, character and audience empathy are flushed down the toilet. Are we surprised? After all, the movie has been remade by the ultimate Lads Mag Director, Tony Scott, of TOP GUN fame and DOMINO and DEJA VU mediocrity. But maybe I am a bit surprised to find that this utterly predictable movie was written by the man who wrote LA CONFIDENTIAL. Essentially, the movie is about a psychopath (John Travolta chewing up the scenery) who boards a New York metro train, takes the passengers hostage and demands a bunch of money. He forms a weird relationship with a rail dispatcher with a shady past (Denzel Washington), and spurns the attentions of the cops (John Turturro) and the Mayor (James Gandolfini). The movie could've been so much better - a fracked up psychological cat-and-mouse game between hostage-taker and dispatcher - a discourse on the corruption of politicians and the police. On a technical level, it should've evoked the claustrophobia of the hijacked metro-cab and the wider menace of The City. In the end, it's all just a convenient hook to hang a chase scene on. Weak, weak, weak. Go watch INSIDE MAN instead.

THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3 is on release in the USA, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Singapore, South Korea, UAE, Canada, the Philippines, Taiwan and Argentina. It opens in the final week of July in the UK, Greece, Malaysia, Austria, Spain, Belgium, France, Morocco, Switzerland, Israel, Kazakhstan, Finland and Lithuania. It opens on August 6th in Iceland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Romania. It opens on August 13th in the Czech Republic. It opens on September 4th in Slovakia, Brazil, Japan and Mexico. It opens on September 11th in Bulgaria; on September 17th in Cyprus, Portugal and Italy.


  1. Meh. I'd stick with Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw any day.

  2. I'm ashamed to say I haven't seen the original - but it is in my DVD rental queue.

  3. I'm with Ali, watch the original!