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The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)

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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.



(screenplay), (novel)
4,223 ( 863)
1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Phil Ramos (as Luis Guzman)
Robert Vataj ...
John Johnson
Deputy Mayor LaSalle
8-Year-Old Boy
Mr. Thomas


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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

train | hostage | subway | hijack | ransom | See All (117) »


Action | Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and pervasive language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:





Release Date:

12 June 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Taking of Pelham 123  »


Box Office


$100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$23,373,102, 12 June 2009, Wide Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the novel, Ryder's mother died of cancer, and his father was bludgeoned by an ashtray. He entered military service, like Vietnam, and perhaps this was the case in the original film, but doubtful in the remake. See more »


In the opening sequence Garber is at the controls with a napkin tucked into his neck and he is eating, next we see him without the napkin having a cup of coffee. In the next shot he has the napkin back in. See more »


Ryder: Well, I got faith in you man... but I gotta ask you one question. You know that thing when you told your wife about the 35K, how did she react?
Walter Garber: Look, we gotta talk about...
Ryder: No, don't be sensitive.
Walter Garber: I'm not being sensitive.
Ryder: Well, did she freak out or what?
Walter Garber: She... wasn't happy, but she understood.
Ryder: Well, that's love right?
Walter Garber: No, that's marriage... that's another thing.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the opening credits, the director's name, Tony Scott, "follows" the train into the tunnel. See more »


Remade as Tezz (2012) See more »


99 Problems
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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Decent entertainment, but doesn't hold a candle to the original
13 June 2009 | by See all my reviews

I went to the this most recent remake of Pelham 1-2-3 (most don't even recall the made-for-TV version filmed in Toronto - with good reason) with an open mind. I was weened on Godey's book when 8, and saw the original film when it was released a few years later. I've committed practically every line and scene to memory. I'll admit.... I'm biased. I felt the original could not be successfully remade... the gritty feel, the outstanding David Shire soundtrack, the believable performances of the ensemble cast..... and I was right. I did not go into the theater hoping to hate the remake, but instead to like it. I REALLY wanted to like it. I have always enjoyed both Denzel Washington and John Travolta in their various endeavors and thought the chemistry might work fine here. While entertaining, it became almost tiresome after a while. I felt no tension, no "edge of the seat" sensation that the original brought, I found myself disliking most of the characters and really not caring what happened to them. It passed the time, had some thrills, but that was about it for me.

The '09 version is entertaining, with some excellent action scenes and more than a few decent dialog exchanges between characters, but it is nothing more than a Tony Scott action movie dressed up as "The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3". While starting off liking Washington's character (now disgraced MTA administrator-turned dispatcher Walter Garber, as opposed to Detective Zachary Garber in the book and original screen incarnation), I found, as the movie progressed, that he went from believable to just another two-dimensional action movie hero who, if he was what as he really started out as being, would not have ended up doing what he did in the film. Sorry, no spoilers here gang. You'll have to go judge for yourselves.

Travolta was dynamic, putting in a great performance, but I found his manic characterization not befitting as the supposed master-mind of the criminal plot involved. Remarkably, there were three other hijackers in the movie. I don't know why Scott even bothered including them. They were not only ineffectual characters with lackluster performances, but totally lacked the dynamic presence and interplay between the hijackers of the original film so much so that you barely even noticed them - or cared. Oh well, I guess it would not have been practical with only one hijacker....

The dizzy camera-work and stylized production were tedious at times and distracting. The soundtrack was, IMHO pure garbage.

Like I said, I found it entertaining, but despite some opinions that the "updated" and "freshened" plot was exhilarating and an improvement on the '74 incarnation, I honestly don't think the Matthau/Shaw/Balsam version need worry about being eclipsed by this remake. Go see it though, as it is fun summer fare and if you have no ties to the original, you'll probably find it relevant. Afterward, do yourself a favor and rent the original. You'll see the way the story was meant to be done.

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