If you're looking for something to get your heart pumping, then The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 should be right up your alley. The film is based on the novel by John Godey, and is a remake of the 1974 version of the film, which starred Walter Matthau. There was high intensity throughout, which made up for the big, glaring issue I had of logistics. Most people like to say that if it is Hollywood, then logic can (and should) be overlooked - I am not one of those people.
We follow an elaborate train heist in New York, of the Pelham 1 2 3 train. Walter Garber (played by Denzel Washington) is in for a long ass day at the MTA Rail Control Center, where he quickly finds out that the train in his section, has been overtaken by a group of criminals. The group is lead by a man that calls himself Ryder (played by John Travolta), who has a well thought out plan to detach the lead car of the train, and take 19 passengers hostage. Walter, and the city, have one hour to come up with ten million dollars ransom, or all the passengers will be executed.
Lieutenant Camonetti (played by John Turturro), is heading up the hostage negotiation unit that is called into the control center. Camonetti is trying to make sense of what is going on, while trying to aide Walter during the hostage situation, as Ryder decided he will only be speaking with Walter over the train communication system. The problems that Walter and Lt. Camonetti face are to keep Ryder calm, keep the passengers alive, and get the Mayor (played by James Gandolfini) involved to produce the ransom. All in a day's work, I suppose.
You will definitely be entertained from beginning to end; the action, and intensity keep you glued to find out what happens next. I'm pretty gay for Denzel, but not a fan of Travolta, yet they have a great dynamic, and both deliver really solid performances. Travolta especially was very convincing at playing a deranged, yet intelligent lunatic. Characters are developed inside the context of the story, which helped keep the intensity up, and kept a nice, even continuity throughout.
Even though he had plenty of screen time, Turturro's role was a bit sub-par in my book, and I'm usually a big fan of his. The film needed the Mayor's participation, but I think the character was in the film too much, and they definitely didn't need a name like Gandolfini to deliver the part. As mentioned earlier, the logistics really bothered me, in particular, surrounding Denzel's character. This is supposed to be just a regular guy at the MTA, and yet he was completely cool and collected while dealing with a hostage situation that took over all the local media, and he even boarded the train, and dealt face-to-face with the criminal group and Travolta. Give me a fucking break.
The film did what it set out to do, and is worth your two hours - just don't expect a masterpiece.