I learned from press releases that the movie is a remake of a 1974 classic starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. I’m currently looking for a copy of that movie, as one of my friends said that it is also very entertaining.
I’ve always been a fan of actors Denzel Washington and John Travolta, and this film was a vehicle which allowed their talent to shine. Travolta is entertaining as the mysterious Ryder, who hijacks a New York (where else?) subway train to extort money from the city. Washington plays the cool and collected Walter Garber, an employee of the Metropolitan Transport Authority facing bribery charges but is singled out by the manic Ryder as the main negotiator for the hostages in the train.
Other standout performances are by the “Sopranos” James Gandolfini as a mayor who knows how to wheel and deal, and John Tuturro, who manages to come off as serious even with the impending release of the second “Transformers” movie, wherein he plays a seriously whacked Agent Simmons.
The opening was interesting, as it showed the main hijackers one by one as they boarded the train, using a strobe-effect that effectively speeded up the movements and gave the viewer an expectation of the thrill to come.
However, the basic story isn’t anything special, just the average heist movie wherein the hijackers strike swiftly, only to have their plan fall to pieces in the end. Still, it’s fairly well-executed, and leaves the viewer wondering how the whole thing is going to end.
All in all, the film is a basic popcorn action heist movie, with excellent performances by the main actors. “Pelham” definitely won’t win any Oscars for best picture, but is enough to be entertaining.