Two mega Hollywood stars have paired up to remake a thriller from 1974. Denzel Washington and John Travolta take on starring roles in “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3″, a Columbia Pictures production where transit worker Walter Garber (Denzel Washington) becomes a hostage negotiator against a group of hijackers lead by Ryder (John Travolta), who turns out to be an intelligent mastermind of the markets. After taking over a subway train they request $1 million dollars for ransom, threatening to execute the train’s passengers every minute that passes after the deadline. As the tension mounts, Garber employs his vast knowledge of the subway system in a battle to outmaneuver Ryder and rescue the hostages.
As time clicks down Ryder begins to feel the pressure, eventually snapping and killing the MTA motorman and another innocent hostage. At his wits end he insists his new “friend” Garber bring his money to him. Determined to not cost anymore New Yorkers their lives Garber complies and takes a crash course from the FBI on hostage negotiations and heads to the train car underground. Once there he is ordered to drive the train car at a high speed to getaway, eventually stopping at Roosevelt. As the criminal’s try to make an escape what will it cost Garber and the other hostages. It’s a high intense chase ending with a ride to safety.
“The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3″ contained the mix that every thriller has; the bad guy, the good guy, the mayor (portrayed by the entertaining James Gandolfini) and the hostages. As the train cars come to a rest and in the final scenes I expected an alternate ending. Expecting a little twist and turn from the tracks you end up with what you see is what you get. Denzel Washington’s depiction of Garber was very good, but his counterpart John Travolta as the bad ass Ryder was bizarre and over-played. It felt forced to view Travolta as the bad guy and unfortunately it just did not work. I think if Washington & Travolta’s roles had been reversed perhaps we would have had fireworks. The cinematography and slicing of the film was rather distracting, effects not needed for the film. “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3″ is not horrible, just not what I would expect from these A listers.