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:: The Taking Of Pelham 123

Director Tony Scott’s remake of the classic ‘The Taking Of Pelham 123’ is the kind of film that will split the opinions of film lovers right around the world. The fans of films like ‘Swordfish’ will love the fast action-paced, video-clip style Scott uses throughout the film but will annoy genuine film-lovers to a state of anger.

For those who haven’t seen the original, ‘The Taking Of Pelham 123’ follows a day in the life of MTA Dispatcher Walter Garber (Denzel Washington). But this no ordinary day. Garber has already lost the trust of some of his colleagues when he is charged with bribery so it looks really bad when he is the person who is contacted by Ryder (John Travolta), a man who has just taken the Pelham 123 train hostage… and is willing to kill. Garber is faced with having to convince people like Hostage Negotiator Detective Camonetti (John Tutorro) and the New York Mayor (James Gandolfini) not only that he is innocent but that they have to listen to Ryder before innocent people lose their lives.

Those who are quick to write ‘The Taking Of Pelham 123’ off as just another action film are barking up the wrong tree. The action of this film comes in dribs and drabs, a majority of the film is some fairly well written dialogue between Washington and Travolta, not that this makes it a boring film. In fact it is exactly the opposite, your senses are heightened as you try to work out Ryder’s reason for taking the train hostage.

What Scott does mess up is that he doesn’t give us information about the hostages to warrant us caring that they are kept alive. In fact it is arguable that the only character that you do want to see get out of it okay is Garber; some of the hostages on the train are so annoying you’re virtually praying that Ryder will put a bullet in their head. The other slip-up is the style that Scott uses throughout the film. I’m normally a fan of hand-held camera but the constant camera movements in some scenes are actually enough to make you sick.

One highlight from the film though is the acting of John Travolta. Like his performance in ‘Swordfish’ he shows that he shines when given a meaty ‘bad guy’ role, and he is so good that you forget that you are watching Travolta. While Ryder’s reason for taking the train hostage is weak, Travolta’s portrayal of him certainly isn’t.

While the visual style of ‘The Taking Of Pelham 123’ can be a little off-putting as a whole the film works. It holds up its suspense and will keep the audience guessing. A good popcorn movie.