Armed men hijack a New York City subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day's work for dispatcher Walter Garber into a face-off with the mastermind behind the crime.
In early afternoon, 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. Will hostages, kidnappers, and negotiators live through this? Written by
The movie pays homage to Walter Matthau, who played Lt. Zachary Garber in the 1974 movie by naming 'Denzel Washington's character Walter Garber. Also, while Lt. Zachary Garber wore a plaid shirt and yellow tie, Walter Garber wears a yellow shirt and similar pattern plaid tie. See more »
There are no direct track connections between the Coney Island station and the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, but this is considered to be deliberate creative or logistical decisions by the film makers. See more »
Well, I can tell you that you are dealing with one of the old-time bureaucracy, I know that. I mean, it takes time.
Well you'd better fix the bureaucracy. Because when the time comes, these motherfuckers, these out there, are gonna go real quick.
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Subway footage and sounds are mixed in with the production company logos shown after the end credits. See more »
Written by Leslie West (as Leslie Weinstein), John Ventura, Norman Smart (as Norman Landsberg), Felix Pappalardi, Billy Squier, Ice-T (as Ice T), Alphonso Henderson and George Clinton (as George Clinton, Jr.)
Performed by Jay-Z
Courtesy of Roc-A-Fella Records/The Island Def Jam Music Group
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
Contains a sample of "Long Red"
Performed by Mountain
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Entertainment
Also contains a sample of "The Big Beat"
Performed by Billy Squier
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI Film & Television Music See more »
Skip this and see the remarkable original Pelham instead.
When placed side-by-side to the original 1974 classic slow-burning thriller, Tony Scott's remake looks like Danny Devito did in Twins: inferior in every way. Where Joseph Sargent's direction was subtle, Scott opts to shove everything down your throat; where Peter Stone's screenplay from 25 years ago was clever, Brian Helgeland tries too hard to make it hip and cool; and where Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw proved an unlikely but memorable pairing as good guy / bad guy, Washington and Travolta share next to no chemistry. So rather than sentencing this film to death by comparison (which it does deserve mind you) how does it go as a stand-alone picture? Tony Scott is essentially a glorified Michael Bay. Everything is done fast and loud, regardless if the film calls for it or not. Where this has worked for Top Gun or Crimson Tide it fails here. Scott has infused so much needless action with rapid edits and whiplashing camera movements that it proves to be distracting. Even an innocuous conversation between the Mayor and an adviser has a circling camera catching the scene, such is the constant motion Scott feels compelled to instil. It doesn't stop at the eyes though. Every chance possible our ears are assaulted with unnecessary sounds which are poorly matched to what we see on screen (at one point a helicopter sounds like an F1 car.) Occasionally a film calls for coarse language some movies can even use excessive language to great effect (Reservoir Dogs or Boondock Saints for example) however almost every time the F-bomb is dropped in Brian Helgeland's script, and it happens a hell of a lot, it is simply not required. 99% of the colourful language comes from Travolta's crim, but instead of emphasising emotion it purely makes him look stupid. Couple this with plot holes galore and this screenplay from the Oscar winner who wrote L.A. Confidential and Mystic River leaves a lot to be desired.
Thank goodness for Denzel. Incapable of delivering a bad performance, Scott's go-to man (this is their fourth collaboration) salvages this run-of-the-mill action / thriller with his nuanced performance and sheer charisma. As Garber (first name Walter as a nod to Matthau who played his 1974 counterpart), Washington finds a nice balance between your every day worker and someone able to step up in this extreme situation. Travolta doesn't succeed as the foul-mouthed psycho Ryder at all, his go-for-broke portrayal is laughable and ensures we can never take him seriously. Supporting players Gandolfini and Turturro are solid but don't have much to do.
Don't waste your money seeing this on the big screen, wait the six months and rent it on DVD. Better yet, skip this and see the remarkable original Pelham instead.
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