Walter Garber is my hero – well not really but he is definitely the hero of The Taking of Pelham 123 the Denzel Washington / John Travolta thriller remake of the 1974 Walter Matthau / Robert Shaw classic heist film. For those unfamiliar with the premise of the movie it is pretty straightforward and this is not a spoiler in any way: A gang of nameless men take over a NYC subway train and hold the passengers hostage.
It is a very simple storyline and only has a few marginal twists in it to keep things a little more interesting. There is a story floating around that Denzel Washington (Walter Garber) made it a condition of doing the movie that John Travolta be cast in the part of Ryder (Mr. Blue in the original movie). If you have had the good fortune of seeing the original Pelham One Two Three it is difficult not to watch the new installment without drawing comparisons. In truth the new movie while very good is not quite up to snuff with the original – but then again the original had a much stronger cast and has aged quite well. Still The Taking of Pelham 123 is still a strong effort and well worth watching.
There are some interesting choices made in The Taking of Pelham 123 not the least of which is the free flow of profanity from the mouth of Ryder. The level of graphic violence is surprising too and coupled with the profanity is probably what earned this movie its R rating. Simply put the movie could have been just as complete and enjoyable without the profanity and splatter. Filmmakers ought to realize that going down the path of maximum shock isn’t always the best path for “realism”.
The Taking of Pelham 123 is well written, well directed and well acted. It is a good movie and well worth your time. This is not family viewing though it is graphic and profane but thoroughly enjoyable if you are an adult.