They can have it! The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 DVD review - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

Thread Tools
post #1 of 2 Old 12-21-09, 09:34 AM Thread Starter
Senior Shackster
Richard W. Haines's Avatar
Richard W. Haines
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Posts: 792
They can have it! The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 DVD review

I read the original book and saw the seventies feature version of "The Taking of
Pelham 1,2, 3". Both were mildly entertaining providing you could suspend your
disbelief. The first problem was deflecting the absurdity of a gang of criminals
taking over a New York City subway and holding the passengers hostage until
the Mayor gave them millions of dollars. How were they going to get out of there?
Neither original nor the new remake resolve this problem convincingly. So where
does that leave the audience? Well there has to be a good villain and plausible
hero to make it work since most of the story has them engaging in verbal head games
on the phone.

In the 1974 version a burned out cop played by comedian, Walter Matthau, played
the protagonist. He was okay in the role although I kept on waiting for him to
do something funny. The villain was icey cool Robert Shaw the year before his defining
role in "Jaws" as the crazy shark hunter. In that version they had some good supporting
players like Martin Balsam and the final plot twist where Matthau uncovers his identity was
amusing. The action was limited but some suspense was developed and the death of Shaw
was different to say the least.

So if the original was in color, why remake it at all? Well Ridley Scott's ("Alien", "Bladerunner")
less talented brother, Tony Scott, likes to do flashy and gimmicky movies and since his style
doesn't really suit any film why not rehash this old story and update it? I guess the reason
not to is that with modern technology and the current Transit Authority control room, this
type of action would never work no matter how much one suspended their disbelief.

In this picture they changed the cop to a transit beurocrat played by Denzil Washington.
Washington is a good actor but seems somewhat bewildered and confused playing this
bland character. Not that there's much character development at all here. Tony Scott
throws you right into the middle of the story without any set up. The screenplay is so
poorly written that what should've been a major plot point of one of the hostages
using a live mini-camera on his laptop chronicling the incident isn't utilized. Just a
throwaway plot device.

The main problem is the villain. A balding Travolta does another one of his over the top bad guys. He camps it up from beginning to end similar to his portrayal in "Broken Arrow". While he made
me laugh ranting and swearing he simply wasn't as creepy or threatening as Robert Shaw
who had a more intriquing screen presence ("Battle of the Bulge", "From Russia with
Love", "Jaws") playing these type of roles. Shaw could put viewers on edge waiting for his volatile
temper to explode after a slow build up. Travolta is so looney from the beginning his character
had no place to go so it's a one note performance. The one bit of quirky casting was James
Gandolfini (Tony Soprano) as the Mayor. Even here this wasn't believable since billionaire,
Michael Bloomberg, has had the job for many years and could've paid off the ransom from his own
petty cash. Talented character actor, John Turturro, has nothing to do as the hostage negotiator.
It almost looked like a 'cameo' except he kept popping up in many scenes.

The sole interesting plot twist on the original is how Travolta was manipulating the stock market with his
hostages to make the real money. The ransom was a distraction. Otherwise, the film is very predictable and to misdirect the audience, Scott incorporates very annoying cinematography and editing techniques. I really hated them. In the early days of the DVD medium, there
used to be some motion artifacts and glitches in the transfers which were later corrected.
Scott now uses them as part of his 'style'. Herky jerky movement, zooms and pans. The image cuts
to all kinds of bizzare angles for no reason. You might think the disc is defective but it's intentional. In my opinion, it takes you out of the story and makes you think you're
watching a live action video game. I found it very distracting like someone channel
hopping back and forth between two movies on cable. No continuity at all. The image and
sound are fine although the way the film is put together negates their impact.

So there you have it. For those who haven't seen the original, this is an acceptable time
waster. Those who did screen the 1974 version will be disappointed.

The supplements include a documentary about shooting in New York City and dealing
with the Mayor's Office for Film and Television. Since I do this all the time it wasn't
interesting to me but other viewers might find it informative. They also show some
of the stunts and car crashes being filmed which were impressive. I just
wish they had photographed and edited them that way for the story instead
of the jittery, glitchy footage contained in the actual feature film!

Last edited by Richard W. Haines; 12-21-09 at 10:15 AM.
Richard W. Haines is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 2 Old 01-25-10, 03:25 PM
HTS Hillbilly
HTS Administrator
Sonnie's Avatar
I'm a redneck!
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: L.A. (Lower Alabama)
Posts: 22,554
My System
Re: They can have it! The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 DVD review

I like Denzel and I like Travolta, but this was absolutely a dud. I was bored out of my skull watching this movie. All the hype and it simply did not produce.

Cedar Creek Cinema

PremierHomeAudio: Denon, Marantz, Onkyo, Yamaha, Sony, Pioneer, Def Tech and more. Shoot me a PM!
Sonnie is offline  


review , taking of pelham123

Quick Reply

Register Now



Confirm Password
Email Address
Confirm Email Address
Random Question
Random Question #2

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address



Activation requires you reply to an email we will send you after you register... if you do not reply to this email, you will not be able to view certain areas of the forum or certain images... nor will you be able download software.


See our banned email list here: Banned Email List

We DO NOT respond to spamcop, boxtrapper and spamblocker emails... please add @hometheatershack DOT com to your whitelist prior to registering or you will get nowhere on your registration.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML is not allowed!
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome