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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.

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Phil Ramos (as Luis Guzman)
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Bashkin
Robert Vataj ...
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Mom
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8-Year-Old Boy
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Storyline

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 (118) »

Genres:

Action | Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

12 June 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Taking of Pelham 123  »

Box Office

Budget:

$100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$65,452,312 (USA) (21 August 2009)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

We see some of the hostages in the aftermath in the novel. An in-joke in the novel is that someone wants to write up what happened as a novel. See more »

Goofs

The exterior of the control room is the new South Ferry Terminal, not Grand Central Terminal as stated. See more »

Quotes

Ryder: Now you understand commodities, don't you? You know, pork bellies, gold, light crude.
Walter Garber: Listen. No disrespect, but maybe I'm not the guy you should be talking to.
Ryder: Oh no, you are exactly the guy I wanna talk to. Now I want you to look at the ticker and I want you to tell me what is the going rate for a New York City hostage today. You think a million dollars is too much? I do. I think it's corny. Now get your calculator out. You got one?
Ryder: [Garber hesitates] Do you have a calculator?
Walter Garber: Yeah, we got one...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Featured in Great Movie Mistakes 2: The Sequel (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
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.


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