The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 can be found here.

Four armed men -- Bashkim (Victor Gojcaj), Emri (Robert Vataj), Phil Ramos (Luis Guzmán), and their leader, Bernard Ryder (John Travolta) -- hijack the lead car of a subway train in Manhattan. Ryder contacts MTA dispatcher Walter Garber (Denzel Washington) in the Rail Control Center (RCC) and demands $10 million in ransom to be delivered in one hour or they will start shooting the 19 hostages, one for each minute the money is late.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is based on the 1973 novel (same title) by American author Morton Freedgood, writing under the pen name of John Godey. The novel was adapted for this movie by American screenwriters Brian Helgeland and David Koepp. An earlier adaptation of the novel, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, was released in 1974. A TV remake, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, was released in 1998.

Pelham refers to a local Manhattan train that departs from Pelham Bay Park . The 123 refers to the time that it leaves 1:23. The "taking" refers to a hijacking.

After Garber delivers the money, the hijackers start up the train, having found a way to circumvent the dead man feature. They get off the train at the Roosevelt spur, a derelict tunnel built under the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The train continues forward, picking up speed until the passengers become alarmed and the authorities at the MTV conclude that no one is driving the train anymore. Fortunately, the train trips a red light and stops. MTV orders all patrol cars to converge at the Roosevelt spur, where they open fire on Bashkim and Emri. Garber follows Ryder, who has hailed a taxi in which he checks his laptop to find that he has successfully shortsold the market and invested in gold, earning a huge profit. Ryder hijacks a truck and follows Ryder's cab to the Manhattan Bridge where Ryder has exited his stalled cab. Garber catches up to him on the pedestrian walkway and confronts him with a gun. Ryder demands that Garber kill him before the police do and gives him 10 seconds to shoot. At the end of the 10 seconds, Ryder reaches for his gun, and Garber shoots him. 'You're my goddamn hero,' Ryder says as he sinks to the ground. Later, while on his way home, Garber is stopped by the mayor (James Gandolfini) who thanks him, informs him that the city will go to bat for him in the bribery investigation, and offers him a ride home in his car. Garber takes the train instead. In the final scene, he arrives home, a half-gallon of milk in his hand.

The first drafts of the script faced the challenge of updating the novel with contemporary technology, including cell phones, GPS, laptops, thermal imaging, and a post-9/11 world in New York City. In December 2007, David Koepp, who adapted the novel for Scott and Washington said: 'I wrote many drafts to try and put it in the present day and keep all the great execution that was there from the first one. It's thirty years later so you have to take certain things into account. Hopefully we came up with a clever way to move it to the present.' Koepp's drafts were meant to be "essentially familiar" to those who read the novel, preserving the "great hero vs. villain thing" of the original. Brian Helgeland, the only one receiving credit for the screenplay, took the script in a different direction, making the remake more like the 1974 film than the novel and, as Helgeland put it, making it about "two guys who weren't necessarily all that different from each other." Whereas the novel is told from more than 30 perspectives, keeping readers off balance because it is unknown which characters the writer might suddenly discard, the two films focus on the lead hijacker and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority employee with whom he communicates by phone. The new version sharpens that focus until it's almost exclusively a duel between disgraced MTA dispatcher Walter Garber and manic gunman Ryder.

In the book and original film, Ryder is "cold-blooded and calculating", but in the 2009 film he is a "loose cannon willing to kill innocents, not out of necessity, but out of spite." Also Ryder, in the original film and book, is portrayed as a normal looking businessman, while in the 2009 film he looks like he has adopted prison life, wearing very visible prison related tattoos and very laid back modern style of a biker. In the 1974 film, the main character is named Zachary Garber and is a lieutenant in the Transit Authority police; in the 2009 film, the main character is named Walter Garber and works as a subway train dispatcher. Ryder asks for $10 million dollars instead of the $1 million as in the original film and book and $5 million in the made-for TV movie. Ryder does not use the "Mr. Blue" nickname as the original film does; it is implied that Ryder is a nickname.

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