Out tomorrow (July 24th), The Taking of Pelham 123 is the second film adaptation of John Godey’s novel of the same name.
This version stars Denzel Washington as Walter Garber, the subway dispatcher whose day is thrown into chaos when John Travolta and his gang hijack a New York City subway train, the Pelham 123.
Essentially confined to two locations, the subway control room and the train, the film relies on strong performances from the two leads to propel the story.
Along the way there’s a slightly unnecessary subplot about possible corruption on the part of Garber which eventually leaves the film ending on a slightly iffy note.
At times Travolta’s Ryder seems to be channelling Heath Ledger but mostly remains on the right side of believable and his motive, when it’s revealed, seems plausible enough for a high concept film such as this.
The hostages are largely unexplored but I found this a welcome approach as the story here really is that of Garber and Ryder and the film has a big enough punch without needing to spend time making the passengers likeable or inviting the audience to care for them.
My one gripe with the film is the decision to have Garber spend the final few minutes acting as a pseudo cop, a move which robs John Turturro, as Hostage negotiator Lt. Camonetti, of the chance to cement his place as third lead in the film.
The film’s had some duff reviews elsewhere but overall I found it pretty tense, atmospheric stuff with some decent performances. One to see.
The Taking of Pelham 123 is released July 24th