each other in "The Taking
of Pelham 123."
By M. Scott Morris
Before walking into the theater to see "The Taking of Pelham 123," I thought I'd seen parts of it before.
I'm not referring to "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three," a 1974 screen version of John Godey's novel.
Instead, I was thinking about "Swordfish" and "Broken Arrow," which both featured John Travolta as bad guys who seemed interchangeable.
But Travolta found something new for Ryder, the leader of a gang that takes a subway train full of commuters hostage. There were times when I forgot I was watching Travolta, something that doesn't happen often for me.
Denzel Washington plays Walter, the radio operator who takes Ryder's call when it's time to negotiate. Walter's not a trained hostage negotiator, which is probably why Ryder refuses to talk to anyone else.
Through the course of their exchanges, we learn that Walter has been accused of corruption, and we see him wrestle with that pressure while Ryder heaps on more pressure.
"The Taking of Pelham 123" is an opportunity to see Washington and Travolta play off each other, and they deliver.
In addition, John Turturro is a solid presence as a hostage negotiator who helps Walter through the process, and it's easy to believe James Gandolfini as a philandering mayor of New York. I've always been a fan of Luis Guzman, but he didn't have much to do here.
The film loses some of its energy during a hard-to-believe third act, but combined star power of Travolta and Washington brings this train into the station.
"The Taking of Pelham 123" is a solid thriller with a few comedic moments sprinkled throughout. I give it a B.
It's showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville and Movie Reel in New Albany.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.