Remake Recon: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
One of the most beloved films of the 1970’s, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three still endures to this day.
It’s a seemingly straight forward story. Four armed men hijack a subway car in New York City. If the city wants the hostages back they’ll have to pay up to the tune of one million dollars. They have to decide quickly, the lead hijacker Mr. Blue (Robert Shaw) won’t wait more than an one hour after that a hostage will be killed for every minute past that deadline.
Police Lt. Zachary Garber (Walter Matthau) is stuck trying to buy time, save the lives of the hostages and coordinate plans with different departments in the city to try to figure out a way to control the situation and stop these guys.
It’s a fantastic film. Suspenseful, thrilling and pretty funny. Naturally since this story was told so well the first time around Hollywood has tried to replicate it. First a television remake in 1997, and more recently a big-budgeted remake in 2004. Which to no surprise doesn’t comes close to matching the quality of the original.
Despite the A-List cast of Denzel Washington and John Travolta, director Tony Scott’s The Taking of Pelham 123 (they decided to use numbers in the title this time I suspect they thought it looked hipper and it’s easier to write) never becomes more than a glitzy, hollow retelling of the story.
Want to find out more? Well, I did a Remake Recon video comparing the two films, which should give you better idea as to why I think the original is still the much better, more worthwhile film to watch.