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DVD Pick: The Taking of Pelham 123

Against all odds and better advice, Tony Scott directs Denzel Washington and John Travolta in a remake of the kidnap classic

The Taking of Pelham 123
Director: Tony Scott

Against all odds and better advice, Tony Scott directs Denzel Washington and John Travolta in a remake of the kidnap classic. And he improves on it.

Pelham ‘09 finds its groove in the here and now, just as the original Pelham did in 1974, with more complications and fewer laughs.

The taut script by Brian Helgeland realistically adds fears of terrorism to the mix and shades characters so that both Washington’s good guy Garber and Travolta’s bad guy Ryder have intriguing back stories, plausibly connecting them as kindred spirits in desperation. The updated screenplay still finds time, as in the original, to explain the title’s “123” reference, which is the 1:23 p.m. hour the downtown train begins its journey beneath Manhattan.

 
 
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