Writer: Peter Stone (Screenplay) John Godey (Novel)
Starring: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo, Earl Hindman, James Broderick, Dick O’Neill
Plot: In New York, armed men hijack a subway car and demand a ransom for the passengers. Even if it’s paid, how could they get away?
Tagline – 1:23pm. Grand Central Station, New York. A packed commuter train is hijacked. A ransom is set – at one million dollars. The subway is a closed system. For the four hijackers, surely there is no way out. But they have a deadly plan.
Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Tense 70’s Thriller
Story: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three starts when four man codenamed Blue (Shaw), Green (Balsam), Grey (Elizondo) and Brown (Hindman) hijack a New York subway train, they have demands, one million dollars or they will kill the hostages, Police LT Zachary Garber (Matthau) is left in charge of trying to negotiate the freedom of the passengers.
As the race against time continues to prepare the money we see just how far the hijackers will go for their money and just what is their motives for picking the train system to hijack, which should leave them little chance of escape.
Thoughts on The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
Characters – Lt Garber is trying to show off the New York subway system to the Japanese investment group, only for his day to turn into chaos, as he must work to protect the passengers on the train from the office, figuring out how to stay ahead of the ring leader. Blue is the man running the operations on board the train, he knows what he wants, how to get it done though he doesn’t trust his whole team. Green is the most trusted man working under Blue, he will not ask questions and will get the job done. Grey is one of the hijackers that Blue isn’t keen on, the newest member of the team which only draws attention to him.
Performances – Walter Matthau in the leading role is strong, he brings a role that is only considered an everyday person to life, needing to stay ahead of the hijackers. Robert Shaw as the lead hijacker is strong through the film taking control of the situation well. When it comes to the rest of the cast we get strong performance that don’t make the biggest impact from all involved.
Story – The story follows a group of hijackers that take over a New York subway train wanting money in exchange for passengers and the transport police officers that is trying to stop them. This does play into the ideas of just how people were committing hijackers during the 70’s, it shows how the cities will pay to save the lives of their citizens, it shows us the panic that would come over a city, with the location making everything around watching over the train difficult. We get the usual idea behind the robbery with the team not a smoothly operating as they should be.
Action/Crime – The action in the film is mostly how the tactical approach is used to prepare for the attempts to take down the hijackers. This does show how the criminals are acting and have put a plan together.
Settings – The film mostly is set on the train and with the station that the police are watching over the events preparing for the problem to be solved.
Final Thoughts – This is a classic action crime thriller that did get a remake, certain parts haven’t aged that well, while others make it feel more raw.
Overall: Classic Action Thriller.