The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

Critics Consensus

Breezy, thrilling, and quite funny, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three sees Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw pitted against each other in effortlessly high form.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 39

88%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,450

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Movie Info

In New York City, a criminal gang led by the ruthless "Mr. Blue" (Robert Shaw) hijacks a subway car and threatens to start shooting one passenger per minute unless they receive a million dollars in cash from the city within an hour. On the other end of the line, crusty veteran transit policeman Zachary Garber (Walter Matthau) has his hands full dealing with the mayor's office and his hotheaded fellow cops, while also trying to deliver the ransom before the deadline expires.

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Critic Reviews for The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (39)

  • The large, well-characterized cast is ably headed by Walter Matthau, whose wonderfully weary sense of irony is perfect.

    October 3, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Taps into viewers' paranoia over a decrepit, vulnerable infrastructure and then provides bitter laughs and a harrowing catharsis.

    August 27, 2018 | Full Review…
  • What's good about Pelham's example of the form is that the performances are allowed enough leeway so that we care about the people not the plot mechanics. And what could have been formula trash turns out to be fairly classy trash, after all.

    April 29, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The original version of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three was made 35 years ago, yet it retains a quality of cool that will remain long after people have forgotten the current version.

    June 10, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Quote not available.

    September 24, 2008 | Rating: 4/5

    Nev Pierce

    BBC.com
    Top Critic
  • The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is a good action caper about a subway car heist under the streets of Manhattan.

    March 4, 2008

    Todd McCarthy

    Variety
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

  • Jun 01, 2014
    [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img]
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Mar 26, 2013
    I have no idea what the remake is like and I suspect that it pales in comparison to the original which is wonderful..just wonderful. The ending is absolutely perfect. It borders on corny but somehow Matthau makes it work.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 25, 2012
    Director Joseph Sargent's The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is a well crafted and thrilling film with a wonderful cast. The strength of the film lies in an electrifying plot that delivers intense thrills from start to finish. With a brilliant, tense performance by Robert Shaw, this is a stunning, near flawless film that is among the finest action thrillers of the 1970's. This is a stunning work of cinema that is executed to near perfection and the key to the success of the film is in the taut and thrilling, well written script that delivers a memorable and very entertaining plot that still holds up to this day. So many great classic cinematic works are set in New York, and this is one of the few that has been overlooked and very underrated. If you love the classic, unfiltered action films of old that don't use nifty special effects, but the power of a terrific script, wonderful acting to create its tense situations, then give this one a viewing. Brilliantly executed and this is a stellar work of a heist film that has enough thrills to rival any action pictures that came after it. The remake was good, but it fell short of course, and with that being said, this film's biggest strength is the tour De force demented performance of Shaw who plays the leader of criminals who highjack the train Pelham one, two, three. His role alone is for me anyways one of the most memorable roles in any film of this period and it is among his greatest performances. Sit back, buckle in and be prepared because Pelham one, two, three is a ride that you won't soon forget.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Sep 03, 2012
    Its near genius rests in the simplicity of the plot. Sargent doesn't waste a moment with any needless exposition and the result is thrilling. Also, while Matthau and Shaw share almost no screen time, they do prove to be worthy adversaries to one another.
    Alec B Super Reviewer

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