The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Blu-ray)
One of the fun things about being a Blu-ray Reviewer (or just a fan of all ages of movies) is that I get to review the original. I have written before about this being the age of the ‘remake’ and the vast number of films being remade or reimagined is sometimes staggering. In 2009 a movie was released that I honestly didn’t know was a remake. THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3 (Denzel Washington, John Travolta), while fun, was not a good movie. The original is far better and is definitely worth checking out on Blu-ray.
THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE features some of the finest actors of all time, including Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw in the lead roles. Matthau plays Lt. Zachary Garber, a transit officer working in the hub of the NYC Subway system. On a seemingly normal day, four armed men hijack a subway train. The head of the hijackers, Blue (Robert Shaw), calls in to the command center and announces that the train has been taken. If NYC does not pay one million dollars cash in one hour one passenger will be killed each minute. Garber must work with other transit police including Lt. Rico Patrone (Jerry Stiller), the NYC police department, the NYC bureaucracy, and other transit workers to try to save the lives of the passengers.
The story is simple but riveting from the opening moments. As the hijackers board the train one by one, every detail is so flawlessly executed that you believe they can’t be stopped… until things start going wrong. A transit supervisor enters the tunnel and is gunned down by the hijackers before he even knows what is happening. The mayor, who must authorize payment, is in bed with the flu. And each wrinkle is further complicated by the exacting demands of the hijackers. As Garber tries to cut through the red tape, he is also constantly working out how the hijackers are planning to escape from the subway.
Today when I think of Walter Matthau and Jerry Stiller, I think of THE ODD COUPLE or GRUMPY OLD MEN (Matthau) or SEINFELD (Stiller). It’s nice to get to see them both in completely different types of roles, and they both shine in this picture. Additionally, this movie has a tight script that moves ever forward, closer and closer to the deadline. Filling in the supporting cast are other phenomenal character actors you’ll enjoy seeing. Hector Elizondo (PRETTY WOMAN) will scare you as Grey, a sociopathic addition to the hijackers crew. Dick O’Neill (THE JERK), Doris Roberts (EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND), and Lee Wallace. But the star is Robert Shaw as the cold-blooded [Mr.] Blue. The man better known as Sam Quint (his character from JAWS) gives an incredible turn in this thrilling role.
I’m glad that I got to watch this movie; as someone who enjoys movies from all different periods of cinema the only thing I regret is that I didn’t know about this movie sooner. The score and sound track scream early 70’s New York City. Maybe it’s because of when I grew up or because of what I’ve been watching recently, but this movie feels like a thriller in the current sense and it comes together beautifully. I highly recommend this movie, even though the blu-ray package is disappointing featuring absolutely ZERO special features.
Video: (1080p, 2.35:1 Widescreen) The video quality is crisp despite the movie being 37 years old. You will feel like you’re right there for the action during every intense moment.
Audio: (English Mono DTS-HD Master Audio) I really enjoyed the sound mixing and editing on this film. It’s a pretty inventive look into the sounds of NYC during a crisis. Mono tracks rarely match up to today’s standards, but unless you are really checking for it you won’t notice the difference.
This disc receives the bare bones treatment from Fox, featuring only the Theatrical Trailer.