Released by: MGM
Released on: 5/29/2011
Director: Joseph Sargent
Cast: Robert Shaw, Walter Matthau, Hector Elizondo, Earl Hindman, Martin Balsam
Purchase from Amazon
A New York City subway engine car (Pelham 123) is highjacked by four men wearing glasses, sporting moustaches, and wielding automatic weapons. Inside the car there are nearly two dozen hostages that will start getting picked off one per minute if the City doesn’t pay them one million dollars within one hour. Mr. Blue (Robert Shaw) leads a team consisting of Mr. Green (Martin Balsam), Mr. Grey (Hector Alizondo) and Mr. Brown (Earl Hindman, “Wilson” on Home Improvement
), and their plan to hijack the train and segregate an engine car goes off without a hitch. Now to get that big money…
The hijacking almost immediately clogs one of the busiest subway systems in the world, and it comes to the attention of Lt. Garber (Walter Matthau) of the NY Transit Authority. Garber works as the negotiator and investigator for the hostage situation, and he does all the talking with Mr. Blue, who will not budge on his demands. With the help of his fellow lieutenant, Patrone (Jerry Stiller), they work to piece together the puzzle that they’re faced with.
Meanwhile, things aren’t working out too well with the hostage crises below ground. Blue isn’t impressed with some of the tactics employed by Grey, and their difference in management style puts a jam in the gears of Blue’s plans and messes up his mojo. He knows that getting out of the situation alive may prove to be more difficult if things don’t change in a hurry.
For anyone who hasn’t seen this movie, it’s one you should see sooner than later. The characters (and the players) are excellent and are what really make this movie work. Shaw is emotionless and cold, while Matthau is animated and really likeable and the two opposites drive this movie for its entirety. But it isn’t just the Shaw/Matthau show, as Hector Elizondo is also great in his role as an arrogant creep, making you want him out of the picture so Shaw can get away, but you want Matthau to get his man at the same time. Jerry Stiller is also excellent as the other transit cop, with a laid back attitude and great screen presence. When they show his profile you can see his son in there, which is kind of neat. Lots of other familiar faces show up with small parts: Doris Roberts, Dick O’Neill, and Bill Cobbs, to name a few.
The film delivers the much beloved “70s NYC vibe” with on location shooting in Brooklyn, and really giving the viewer a good look at the subway system made cinematically famous by such movies as The French Connection
. And if the atmosphere feels at all like The French Connection
at times, well that makes sense because the same guy photographed both movies.
With a rock solid cast giving some excellent performances, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
is an excellent character-driven actioneer that is sprinkled with some good humor that feels natural. The film doesn’t throw any real curve balls, but is an absolutely 100 percent top-notch 70s crime movie that delivers one of the best endings ever.
The film is presented on Blu-ray with an AVC encoded, 1080p, 2.35:1 widescreen transfer, which delivers a clear image. The colors look good, skin tones as well, and the black levels are decent. No artifacts were noticed. Detail is good and there’s plenty of natural grain. Basically it looks like an average BD, and it looks great. The audio is a mono track that doesn’t offer much for viewing enhancement, but it gets the job done. It’s clear, everyone can be understood, and the music doesn’t dominate.
As for extras, sadly all that is offered is the feature’s trailer.
The Final Word:
A must see for those with even a passing interest in “old” movies. Even though the extras aren’t there, it’s a big step up from the DVD release of last decade. Well worth the upgrade.