The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Crime
Sony || R - 106 minutes - $39.95 || November 3, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-10-31

Buy this DVD from!
.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

B L U - R A Y

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Tony Scott
Writer(s): John Godey (novel); Brian Helgeland (screenplay)
Cast: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, John Turturro, Luis Guzman, James Gandolfini

Theatrical Release Date: June 12, 2009

Supplemental Material:
  • 2 Feature Commentaries
  • 3 Featurettes
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • MovieIQ
  • cinechat
  • BD-Live
  • Digital Copy

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Comment on this and other movies on the message board!

.::THE FILM::.

Tony Scott’s latest thriller is a “remake” of a 1977 movie starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. However, from all accounts, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is not that similar with the original. Either way, I’m unsure exactly what to make of this film. You’ve got two great actors in Denzel Washington and John Travolta and the latter has proven to play cool villains in the past (see: Face/Off), and as good as these guys are, I think the direction and screenplay by a capable men lets them down.

The movie centers on MTA controller Walter Garber (DENZEL WASHINGTON), a man who has been recently demoted after a kickback scandal and it just so happens that a call from a train hijacker calling himself Ryder (JOHN TRAVOLTA) comes to his terminal. Ryder wants $10 million for the lives of the passengers within an hour. Soon the two men form a kind of bond and Ryder would rather deal with Walter rather than a “grease-ball” negotiator (JOHN TURTURRO) and when the NYC Mayor (JAMES GANDOLFINI) gets involved, things may start to unravel.

As I was saying before, from the onset there was something off about Pelham 1 2 3. Once again, Tony Scott tries out his unique directing style using different camera techniques we saw first in Man on Fire and continued on with Domino and Déjà Vu. I had my problems with Domino but here the technique doesn’t quite work and the film failed to gather any sort of momentum or suspense despite two solid performances. It could be that this style can be off-putting unless it serves the story but with his film, it was only a distraction.

The other issue is with the screenplay by Brian Helgeland who has done decent work in the past with L.A. Confidential, Man on Fire and Mystic River, though still had some stinkers like The Postman, Blood Work and The Order. With this film, I didn’t have a problem with the set-up but when you finally get into the third act and we discover Ryder’s ultimate plan, it kind of just drops off without any reason or reason for not having a reason... It’s left oddly open-ended and while I can sometimes appreciate a movie not spelling everything out for an audience, it just didn’t make any sense to do it here.

The film features some decent, though underutilized, performances by Luis Guzman, John Turturro (helping me forget his roles in the Transformers movies) and James Gandolfini in a role that also never really clicked in the story.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is just a strange film. Not strange in an artistic way, but strange in that you have two good actors, a story that should’ve been interesting and direction that could’ve been suspenseful. Instead, the whole thing never really meshes with one another despite the talent involved... and yes, I am saying Tony Scott has talent as demonstrated with Man on Fire and on a lesser scale, Déjà Vu. As it stands, this is one that screams rental.


Starting things off, there are two feature commentaries: The first is with Director Tony Scott and the second is with Writer Brian Helgeland and Producer Todd Black. Neither track is that amazing, but each offers different insights into the project. I probably preferred the Helgeland/Black track a little better.

No Time to Lose: The Making of Pelham 123 (30:25) – This is actually a half-way decent making-of featurette; it’s not your standard EPK kind of crap. This features on-set interviews with the cast and crew on how the project came together and the hurdles of shooting it in NYC and within the MTA.

The Third Rail: New York Underground (16:15) focuses on New York City’s transit system. You get insights from technical advisors, those who work within the MTA and cast and crew members. It’s kind of interesting for a West coaster like me but you’re not missing much if you skip it.

From the Top Down: Stylizing Character (5:17) is a short featurette taking a look at the hair aspect of the production.

Marketing Pelham (7:04) are all the trailers for the movie.

Finally, the Blu-ray comes equipped with a cinechat feature, MovieIQ that plays with the movie (via BD-Live), a BD-Live portal and a digital copy, all of which are ** Blu-ray Exclusives **. The MovieIQ feature takes a good 4-5 minutes to actually load and honestly, it’s not worth it. This is just a trivia thing where you can find out what cast was in certain scenes, songs featured in the film and that kind of garbage. Fox does it a hell lot better with their Live Lookup which loads a hell lot faster...


The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is presented with its original 2.40 aspect ratio and 1080p high-definition. Overall, as with many of Tony Scott’s movies, it’s tough to judge. Scott seems to over saturate his films so colors do seem to pop out a little more in some places. That said, the detail level from forefront characters to the background people are all well done and I noticed no flaws in terms of scratches or dust.

On the more negative note, I wasn’t really impressed with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. It lacked a certain oomph one would expect with a movie that has crashes and explosions. In fact, my subwoofer barely turned on at times. The only plus I can find with this track is that the dialogue sounds clean and clear...


The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is an interesting quagmire of a film. On the one hand you have two great actors who give decent performances but at the same time between the direction and writing, none of it quite meshes. For Washington and Travolta, it might be worth giving it a rental, however.