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The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Thriller  |  12 June 2009 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 139,748 users   Metascore: 55/100
Reviews: 282 user | 262 critic | 34 from

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)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Vataj ...
8-Year-Old Boy


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

train | hostage | subway | hijack | ransom | See All (115) »


Action | Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

12 June 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Taking of Pelham 123  »

Box Office


$100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$23,373,102 (USA) (12 June 2009)


£4,720,832 (UK) (21 August 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


First blood is a railroad term describing the first time an engineer killed someone on the tracks. See more »


When Ryder and his men make their escape in the Subway they travel downtown. When they stop in lower Manhattan, when they exit the Subway to the street they are now on Park Avenue in the 40's uptown and to the east from where they stopped. See more »


Camonetti: Listen, don't let this guy bring you to his reality. 'Cause that's what he wants to do... he hurts you, you're gonna get angry. He's got the advantage, understand?
Walter Garber: Yeah.
Camonetti: Just deflect.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Subway footage and sounds are mixed in with the production company logos shown after the end credits. See more »


Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums
Written by Maynard James Keenan (as Maynard Keenan) and Billy Howerdel
Performed by A Perfect Circle
Courtesy of Virgin Records America
Under license from EMI Film & Television Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Travolta and Washington make it work
9 June 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Taking of Pelham 123" was the movie that had it all. A great director in Tony Scott, screenwriter in Brian Helgeland (Man on Fire, LA Confidential), and leading men in Denzel Washington and John Travolta each doing what they do best. To its credit, Washington and Travolta keep it afloat. This is the kind of movie both can do in their sleep and watching them go one on one with each other is the film's main bright spot. Were also in for a pretty exciting ride as Tony Scott swings his camera around New York city streets and underground subway tunnels. Though this remake of the 1974 film starring Walter Mathau and Robert Shaw proves to be a little less than the sum of its parts.

Washington plays Walter Garber, the chief detective for the MTA currently involved in some controversy over a bribe he may or may not have taken. While that's being worked out, he's been reassigned to desk duty as dispatcher in the subway command center. Just today will be a day unlike any other as armed men hijack a New York City subway 6 train and hold all of its passengers hostage. The leader of the hi-jackers wishes to be called Ryder (John Travolta), and tells Walter that he wants 10 million dollars within an hour or he will start executing hostages. The cops (led by John Turturro) are brought in but Walter remains as the lead negotiator at Ryder's request.

Short on actual plot, I was expecting more of a character driven movie and early on it appears to go in that direction. There is a great scene where Ryder puts Walter on trial for the bribe and it leads you to think that these two are going to butt heads in dialogue-driven scenes all day long, exposing each other for who they really are. Just the battle of wits ends there, which is unfortunate cause the movie really crackles whenever they talk to each other. Travolta, sporting a menacing goatee and tattoo, is at his over-the-top, f-bomb-dropping, lunatic best and Washington is his level-headed, average-guy adversary.

The rest is all action. Car crashes and shoot-outs take place, the car crashes coming within a sloppy scene where the police travel by motorcade to deliver the money and the shoot-out starting from a rat crawling up a guy's leg of all things. Both feature no important characters and situations that are manipulated. The finale comes before you know it, a chase through the streets of NY that's more exciting because it makes more sense. And Tony Scott, despite using clichés like counting down the clock and going into slow-motion, keeps the movie gritty and fast-paced. As for the rest of the cast, James Gandolfini, playing a New York Mayor, is good comic relief, getting jokes about Giuliani, subways, and the Yankees but Turturro and Luis Guzman, playing a disgruntled MTA employee working with Ryder, don't get much to do.

"Pelham" works pretty well as a thriller because the Tony Scott-Denzel Washington teaming (this is their fourth go-around) always seems to do so and adding Travolta, always fun as a villain, is another nice touch. Just it doesn't always leave you engaged in what's happening, whether because the plot or the action lacks humanity. Still it's held together by good acting and solid direction and for that alone it's worth a ride.

94 of 146 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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BAD REMAKE arcturus6
So did he take the bribe?? butterrfly-1
F Word mannys5
'Why didn't we use a helicopter?' trickyajb
The webcam - it went nowhere in the plot pegasusgiraffe
Garber's 'confession' amandaisworthabillion
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