The Taking of Pelham 123 Blu-ray Review – A Worthy Remake?

I’ve already reviewed The Taking of Pelham One Two Three but that was the 1974 version starring Walter Matthau. This time I’m taking a look at the Denzel Washington version titled The Taking of Pelham 123 from 2009. It also stars John Travolta as the villain.

Which version is best I hear you say? Let’s find out, so without further ado here’s my The Taking of Pelham 123 blu-ray review.

  • The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)
  • Genre: Action, Thriller
  • Directed by Tony Scott
  • UK Rating 15
  • Discs: 1
  • Released By Sony Pictures
  • Blu-ray Released: 11 January 2010


A New York subway train is hijacked and a ransom of $10 million dollars is demanded. If the money doesn’t arrive on time the hijackers will begin killing the hostages one by one.

Style / Direction

The films directed by Tony Scott whilst the cinematography is handled by Tobias A. Schliessler. There’s little doubt this new interpretation of a familiar story brings a rather slick visual style to the screen. It all looks very nice and more importantly enhances the storytelling. As you might expect this version ramps up the action.

Music / Audio Effects

The music score comes from Harry Gregson-Williams.

Acting / Characters

Denzel Washington takes on the role of Walter Garber, a New York City Subway dispatcher. He finds himself forced to negotiate with the leader of the hijackers played by John Travolta. In this film version Washington’s character has more of back story than the one played by Walter Matthau in the 1974 film. In fact he is under suspicion of taking a bribe a fact that plays out during negotiations. Washington is again perfectly cast and delivers a real and compelling performance.

John Travolta on the other hand is a rather unstable character which I guess adds excitement and unpredictability into the mix. He does this rather well but I doubt its performance that would receive any critical acclaim.

Luis Guzmán is always a good character actor and one that whilst never the star always improves any films he’s in. Although to me he’ll always be Pachanga from the excellent Carlito’s Way (1993).

James Gandolfini plays the Mayor of New York City, a role he does exceptionally well I might add.

Overall the casting is extremely impressive as are the actor’s performances.


  • Denzel Washington as Walter Garber
  • John Travolta as Ryder / Dennis Ford
  • James Gandolfini as the Mayor of New York City
  • Luis Guzmán as Phil Ramos
  • Victor Gojcaj as Bashkin
  • Luis Guzmán as Phil Ramos

Conclusion: The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) Film Review

There’s really nothing bad to say about this Washington/Travolta version of a classic story. The film moves along a decent pace, its tense and compelling. I have to say I enjoyed but I still kind of prefer the seventies setting more than this modern one. I guess that’s just a personal preference, I do love films made in the seventies; they have certain feel I love.

The Taking of Pelham 123 Blu-ray Review

That said if you are looking for a decent action thriller then The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) is well worth a look.

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Conclusion: The Taking of Pelham 123 Blu-ray Review

With the film being from 2009 there’s certainly nothing to worry about on the picture quality side of things. Looking at the extras reveals a ‘Making of’ feature lasting 30 minutes. It’s well worth a look and shows some of the difficulties the filmmakers faced. If you want to know about the real New York Underground there’s 16 minute feature. It gives a decent overview featuring the actors in the film. Maybe not essential viewing however.


  • Audio Commentary from Director Tony Scott
  • No Time To Lose: The Making of Pelham 123 (30 mins)
  • From The Top Down: stylizing Character (5 mins)
  • The Third Rail: New York Underground (16 mins)
  • Theatrical Trailers

Popcorn Cinema Rating:

The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)




The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) is available now on Blu-ray from Amazon.

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The Taking of Pelham 123 Blu-ray Review

The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) Trailer

For those of you yet to see the film I’ll leave you with a little taster…

Trailer may not representative of the Blu-ray version

That’s my The Taking of Pelham 123 blu-ray review. I’m aiming to review at least one Denzel Washington film a week. What’s next? Check back soon…

What Do You Think?
Summary: The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) Blu-ray Review
The Taking of Pelham 123 blu-ray review

Movie title: The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)

Duration: 106 mins

Director(s): Tony Scott

Actor(s): Denzel Washington, John Travolta, James Gandolfini, Luis Guzmán, Victor Gojcaj, Luis Guzmán

Genre: Action, Thriller

  • Movie Rating
  • Blu-ray Picture Rating
  • Extras


Washington and Travolta go head to head in this new take on a classic story.