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The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009)



Average Rating: 5.4/10
Reviews Counted: 219
Fresh: 111 | Rotten: 108

Despite a strong cast, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 suffers under the excesses of Tony Scott's frantic direction, and fails to measure up to the 1974 original.


Average Rating: 5.5/10
Critic Reviews: 48
Fresh: 24 | Rotten: 24

Despite a strong cast, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 suffers under the excesses of Tony Scott's frantic direction, and fails to measure up to the 1974 original.



liked it
Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 661,664

My Rating

Movie Info

The ordinary day of New York City subway dispatcher Walter Garber is thrown into chaos by an audacious crime: the hijacking of a subway train. Ryder, the criminal mastermind who leads the highly-armed gang of four hijackers, threatens to execute the train's passengers, unless a large ransom is paid within one hour. As the tension mounts beneath his feet, Garber employs his vast knowledge of the subway system in a battle to outwit Ryder and save the hostages. But, there's one riddle Garber can't


Mystery & Suspense, Action & Adventure

Brian Helgeland

Nov 3, 2009


Sony/Columbia Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (221) | Top Critics (48) | Fresh (111) | Rotten (108) | DVD (6)

'The Taking of Pelham 123' is not a bad film: it's ponderous and shallow, but always watchable. But what it crucially fails to do, especially in the light of its illustrious predecessor, is justify its own existence.

July 31, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Can a director be arrested for the attempted hijack of our emotions?

June 15, 2009 Full Review Source: New Yorker | Comments (2)
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Washington demonstrates his really remarkable ability to make us forget he's a movie star and completely believe he's a flawed but noble civil servant.

June 15, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I was really disappointed by this.

June 15, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Whereas the original, directed by Joseph Sargent, was essentially a well-oiled B movie, the new incarnation, directed by Tony Scott, is bristling with high-tech gimcrackery and over-the-top camera flourishes.

June 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Set in a nightmare New York City, the subway hostage thriller batters our nerves like a tom-tom.

June 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's funny how Scott's trademark blurry quick-cutting - once considered so cutting edge - feels so dated now.

June 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin

A professionally mounted genre exercise which tries to please both thriller and social drama crowds, and suffers mightily as a result.

May 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Shared Darkness
Shared Darkness

You're so busy enjoying the sound and picture quality that you're inclined to forgive the film's missteps.

February 11, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Thunderous, metallic, ominous, screeching sound effects add to the sensory perception that you're watching a megaton monster barreling toward a dramatic showdown.

September 29, 2011 Full Review Source: American Profile
American Profile

Veteran directorial fireball-hurler Tony Scott (Deja Vu, Top Gun) messes it up, as usual.

August 26, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

This sort of thing by design devolves into two guys talking on a phone, which if it's got any chance of working requires strong actors to bring their characters to life. Which is probably where Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 succeeds best.

March 21, 2011 Full Review Source:

A valiant effort, but ultimately Pelham feels like little more than Washington's latest star vehicle, bound for Netflix after a short summer run.

January 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

The fourth (and least effective) collaboration between Denzel Washington and Tony Scott...

November 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

In the post 9-11 New York City, it's a patently ludicrous suggestion that four machine-gun toting, sinister looking individuals can walk freely about the most heavily-guarded subway system in the world.

August 9, 2010 Full Review Source:

When logic subsides, as alas it does, it is the sheer force of Washington's intensity and Travolta's élan that keeps the film on, ahem, track

January 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Killer Movie Reviews
Killer Movie Reviews

All restless shots and relentless cuts, ticking clocks and roving maps, a stream of shouting and shooting and speed-ramping and slow-motion and little real excitement.

December 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinematical

This is either bad writing, bad direction, bad acting or a combination of the three.

December 6, 2009 Full Review Source:

If the trademark Scott gloss serves as a superficial hook, his also-adept manner of building tension and suspense then keeps one interested.

August 31, 2009 Full Review Source:

It would be impossible to make a completely dull film of Godey's story, but Scott has succeeded in reducing it to an empty, mechanical spectacle.

August 30, 2009 Full Review Source: The Australian | Comment (1)
The Australian

Solid performances can't lift this picture above its own mediocrity, however. The plot is formulaic ... and the ending obvious.

August 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Washington Times
Washington Times

If you're not feeling too cerebral Tony Scott's action movie set pieces are pretty good -- also silly sometimes -- but they're more than enough to fill in time between the lines of clichéd dialogue.

August 27, 2009 Full Review Source: MovieTime, ABC Radio National
MovieTime, ABC Radio National

In yet another blander-than-bland remake of a classic film, flash-over-substance specialist Tony Scott takes Joseph Sargent's taut, 1974 action-thriller and processes it through the multiplex mulching machine.

August 27, 2009 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia)
The Age (Australia)

There was a reality to [the original film] that I think is missing from this.

August 26, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia) | Comments (2)
At the Movies (Australia)

If you've never seen the original, the new Taking of Pelham 123 will probably come across as an okay thriller, but if you have seen the original it's clear evidence as to why the movies aren't as good as they used to be.

August 26, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

Mechanical and unspirited, this is just another goddam remake, as they might say in the Big Apple.

August 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

Audience Reviews for The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

A group of hijackers negotiate with a subway dispatcher.
Tony Scott's over-direction, which occasionally worked in >True Romance and Crimson Tide, makes this film almost unwatchable. Quick cuts, sharp pans, and an ever-moving circle around characters, Scott allows no subtlety in performance or presentation.
Denzel Washington does his best, and John Travolta can play unhinged, but their performances aren't enough to keep the film engaging.
The story falls apart as many of the plotlines remain undeveloped and unresolved. James Gandolfini's mayor is set up to be spurious, but this story goes nowhere, and the ending of Ryder and Garber is predictable and improbable.
Overall, Washington is a great actor, but this shouldn't go in his highlight reel.
July 14, 2013
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

I've never seen the original so I can't make a comparison there, but I felt the movie stood alone on its own very well. Denzel was Denzel (great as always), even playing a more relaxed role as a control room operator. I thought John Travolta was very good and convincing, especially after not having seen him in films for a while. All in all, I thought the film was great and "at least" average; the scores on RT don't do it any justice....they should be higher.
September 18, 2012
Eric Alvarez

Super Reviewer


Having nothing more than vague knowledge about the original, I watched this not knowing what i'd get from it, and considering it's a remake of a cult action thriller, I was preparing myself for the worst. But what really surprised me about The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3 is the amount of negative reactions it's actually recieved. It's not as bad as you might think. It's purely a simple, straight forward, above average thriller with a genius premise that gets executed decently, with enough unique traits to make it stand on it's own far enough from it's inspiration. It boasts several good performances, most notably Denzel Washington and John Travolta who aren't seen much on screen together but still share good hero and villian chemistry through out their time playing mind games with eachother over nothing more than a couple of measely microphones. I personally didn't find a problem with Tony Scott's fast paced direction. I think it added to the experience and was an interesting way to go trying to distance this version away from it's predecessors. In comparison to the original it's easily much louder and and by miles a lot quicker. The action is relentless, hard hitting and brutal and made me feel like I was in true, believable physical danger. That works remarkably well for it's isolated plot and even though there's a few problems such as it's lacks of character development it's a hell of a lot more stylish, ambitious and suspenseful than a lot of thrillers i've seen recently. I'd definetely say that this is one of the most easily enjoyable, and coolest suspense thriller vehicles that i've seen in a very long time.
August 6, 2012
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

    1. Ryder: She was an ass model.
    – Submitted by Eddie R (2 years ago)
    1. Ryder: You're my god damn hero.
    – Submitted by Jossan F (3 years ago)
    1. Phil Ramos: I can't get it out of my head. I'm gonna die today.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Ryder: Life is simple now. They just have to do what I say.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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Foreign Titles

  • L'attaque du métro 123 (FR)
  • Asalto al tren Pelham 1 2 3 (ES)
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