The Taking of Pelham 123 | Chicago Reader

The Taking of Pelham 123

Four thugs hijack a New York City subway train, detaching the lead car and threatening to kill its passengers unless they receive $10 million within the hour. This is the third screen adaptation of John Godey's suspense novel, following a TV movie from the 90s and the much-loved 1974 film with Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw, and the story proves to be an ideal property for smash-'em-up action director Tony Scott (Spy Game, Man on Fire). Screenwriter Brian Helgeland has pared the story down, focusing on the mind games between the devious head hijacker (a majestically hammy John Travolta) and the transit dispatcher at the other end of his radio line (Denzel Washington), a more compromised character than the one Matthau played. Crisp supporting turns by John Turturro (as a hostage negotiator) and James Gandolfini (as the mayor) combine with plenty of vehicular mayhem to make this a superior diversion.



  • Tony Scott


  • Denzel Washington
  • John Travolta
  • John Turturro
  • Luis Guzman
  • Michael Rispoli
  • James Gandolfini


  • Brian Helgeland
  • John Godey


  • Todd Black
  • Tony Scott
  • Jason Blumenthal
  • Steve Tisch

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