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   Movie Reviews: The Taking of Pelham 123
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Studio:
     Columbia Pictures
Plot:
     A mild-mannered subway dispatcher tries to save a train full of hostages.
Cast:
     Denzel Washington, John Travolta, John Tuturro, Luis Guzman, James Gandolfini
Rating:
     R
Bottom Line:
     ****

Coverage:
by
Samantha Ofole-Prince

Washington is back in another hostage theme flick. This time he’s playing a civil servant who’s forced to negotiate the lives of 19 passengers after a New York subway train is taken over.

He plays Walter Garber, a married father of two and former high ranking MTA executive who’s been demoted to a dispatcher after an alleged bribery incident. His day begins ordinarily enough directing subway trains through traffic signals until he notices a particular train has stopped between 52nd and 41st Street station.  An attempt to contact the driver fails and he discovers the train has been hijacked by a gun welding maniac called Ryder (Travolta) who‘s demanding a $10 million ransom which he calculates at $500,000 plus per passenger with a penny broker fee for the negotiator.  Ryder’s obviously familiar with the financial market and it’s a clue that’s offered in this twisted thriller filled with engaging and enthralling moments with the most compelling being the ultimate face off between Travolta and Washington’s characters.

Based on the book by John Godey, those familiar with director Tony Scott’s previous flicks will spot his signature special effects – jerky, shaky camera, rapid explosions and plenty of visuals. Guzman as Ryder’s cohort is the classic vicious villain complete with his customary gnarly expression whilst Gandolfin plays the philandering New York City mayor.

Washington does save the day, that’s obvious going in, but what’s reverting is how the day’s event transpires as the clocks tick. There are entertaining spurts of humor injected along the way which offers some reprieve to this highly intense and explosive drama.

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