The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009) or The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)?” width=”560″/>
Now: The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
(2009)Then: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
“What the hell did they expect for their lousy 35 cents – to live forever?” The subway fare isn’t the only thing that’s changed in the 35 years that separates 1974’s tough-as-nails classic thriller The Taking of Pelham One Two Three from Tony Scott’s sleek new star-studded remake. The City’s changed, for starters: The hijacking of a subway train full of passengers was seen mostly as a nuisance in the original. And of course, today’s action movies are very different from the tough-guy cop flicks of the ’70s. So, how does the remake stack up against the original, and which of these trains should you be riding?
Our Reluctant Hero
Pelham 2009: Unassuming New York subway dispatcher Walter Garber (Denzel Washington) is a family man with a loving wife, kids in college, and a bribery accusation he’s trying to live down. But when he ends up on the other end of the horn with the hijackers, he becomes a hero — like it or not.
Pelham 1974: We know almost nothing about gruff, wisecracking Transit Authority cop Zachary Garber (Walter Matthau), except for the fact that he greets the subway hijacking with bewilderment, annoyance, and weary professionalism.
Winner: Pelham 1974. Washington’s Garber comes fortified with plenty of Hollywood-friendly backstory, but he’s no match for Matthau’s cynical anti-hero.
“Who’s Gonna Steal a Subway Train!?”
Calling himself Ryder, the lead hijacker (John Travolta) is a blustery
and psychotic former Wall Street hotshot who not only wants to get back
at the City for taking him down, he also wants to send the markets into
turmoil and make a killing on gold. Good times!
Pelham 1974: The
hijackers are identified by their code names: Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, Mr.
Gray, and Mr. Brown. Their leader, Mr. Blue (Robert Shaw) is a cold and
ruthlessly efficient former mercenary who seems to just want a lot of
Winner: Pelham 1974. But it’s close: Travolta clearly loves playing a raging madman, but Mr. Blue is the stuff of nightmares.
Start Spreadin’ the News
When the billionaire mayor (James Gandolfini) agrees to pay the
hijackers, a super-efficient New York City
bureaucracy springs into action. An army of motorcycle cops and black
vans races through the streets to get the money to the station on time.
When the flu-riddled and ineffectual mayor (Lee Wallace) agrees to pay
the hijackers, a cash-strapped and decaying New York City bureaucracy
creaks into action. Two motorcycle cops and a police car full of money
race through the streets to get the money to the station on time.
Winner: A tie. The
original’s look at a rusty, hard-bitten New York at the height of its
financial woes is legendary. But you can’t beat the new one’s awesome
Winner: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974). The remake is a fun ride full of dependable action movie clichés. The original is a super-tense classic of ’70s grit. How about an original idea, Hollywood?