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The Taking of Pelham 123
DVD disk
11.09.2009 By: J.A. Hamilton
The Taking of Pelham 123 order download
Director:
Tony Scott

Actors:
Denzel Washington
John Travolta
John Turturro

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The New York Transit system is brought to its knees when a group of armed men take the Pelham 123 train hostage, giving the dispatcher one hour to deliver ten million dollars before he starts shooting passengers.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Very rarely do I miss a movie in theaters that I wanted to see, and rarer still do I receive a film to review that I wanted to see and missed, so naturally it was a happy day for me when I found THE TAKING OF PELAM 123 in my latest review bundle. Despite the fact Iím about to use the dreaded ďRĒ word (yep, this film is a remake), I never even heard of the original so Iím fine with it. This film got mixed reviews but I didnít let that take away from my enthusiasm and for good reason, I knew Iíd enjoy this film (a refreshing visit back to the late eighties/early nineties style of action), and enjoy it I certainly did.

First off, you canít go wrong with Tony Scott behind the lens, especially when it comes to action (Iíd list all my favorites but it would take nearly a paragraph). He and Denzel tore it up together a couple times prior to this in D…Jņ VU and MAN ON FIRE, both solid films as well. Pelham featured an all star cast with Denzel Washington, John Travolta, John Turtorro (glad to see him in something other than the TRANSFORMERS films) and a nice supporting effort from Luis Guzman and James Gandolfini. The chemistry was bang on (especially between Travolta and Denzel), giving this well written script and even brighter glow with the help of all this superb talent.

The story was also smart enough, though I knew where Travolta was coming from about half way through the film, and not just because it becomes a touch obvious, but because heís played this type of villain before. I wasnít a hundred percent on the ending, but only because I wanted to see it go in a different direction. I also wasnít fond of how the Mayor (Gandolfini) is the one who starts piecing things together; it was a hard sell, especially considering his nonchalant character and the fact that politicians in general arenít usually on the same detective level as law enforcement.

For some reason, (lately anyway) most studios, directors and producers are afraid of making edgy action flicks like THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123, which is a damn shame because I love this type of movie. Iím a big fan of unchecked violence, lots of language (thatís right mother f*cker!) and the balls needed to shoot these stories like theyíd go down in real life. Combine that with a ďschool of hard knocksĒ score and youíll see a big ol smile on my face every time. Iím looking forward to Denzelís BOOK OF ELI next summer and itís always a pleasure to see Travoltaís evil side as the man can play it up like no other. This flick is worth it for their performances alone, but all in all, itís a pretty tight package.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary by Director Tony Scott: I like Tony Scott, heís been in the business for years and knows exactly what works and what doesnít in a film. And as I listened to him give the breakdown I could instantly see the manís still got it.

Commentary with Writer Brian Helgeland and Producer Todd Black: These two have been kicking it in Hollywood since 1988 and like Scott, are still going strong. The great thing about listening to this duo is hearing them discuss all the other films theyíve worked on as they go (like A KNIGHTíS TALE).

No Time to Lose: The Making of Pelham 123: The crew explain how making a movie in, under and about New York City is not as easy as it looks or sounds. Everyone also agrees that Tony Scott always loves to do things the hard way, and I for one am glad as it shows in his work.

The Third Rail: New York Underground: An in depth look at the unique flavor of New Yorkís transit system. Their subway system is definitely the busiest and most dangerous in the world.

From the Top Down: Stylizing Character: Tony Scott and Stylist Danny Moumdjian give us a breakdown of the hair styles that make the man. Tony has a ďhaircut bibleĒ for his films that dates back to TOP GUN. Thatís a lot of haircuts.

Marketing Pelham: A seven minute string of trailers for the film. Travolta looks totally bad ass with the tattoo, hat and those shades.

Previews: One of the biggest and most impressive rosters of movie trailers Iíve seen in a long time. There are nine in all.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Despite being a little predictable (hostages, money, standoffs), this film delivers a solid action ride from start to finish with cool characters, smart writing and a story that works. Itís not perfect, but you canít ask for much more when it comes to action flicks, especially these days.

Extra Tidbit: I met John Travolta a few years back in Montreal when he was filming BATTLEFIELD EARTH. He was very cool.
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