Trailer for Denzel Washington and John Travolta going mano-a-mano in The Taking of Pelham 123

Denzel Washington and John Travolta in The Taking of Pelham 123
Denzel Washington and John Travolta in The Taking of Pelham 123

Columbia Pictures has released the first trailer for the remake of The Taking of Pelham 123, directed by Tony Scott, from a script by Brian Helgeland.

So many questions enter my mind, when I think about what this movie will be. For those of you who don’t know, I am a huge fan of 1970s action films, and a huge fan of Walter Matthau. So for me this film is sorta sacred. Joseph Sargent – a Jersey City native – directed the original, which became a smash hit in theaters, at least regionally in the Northeast. I kinda grew up with the movie, first watching it on a lazy Saturday afternoon in my teens on TV, at the behest of my mom, a fellow Matthau fan. I knew nothing about it, other than Matthau was the star. It literally shocked me how much I enjoyed it. Since then I’ve watched it countless times, and could probably recite the entire script from memory.

With the jazzy score by David Shire (who also worked on David Fincher’s Zodiac in 2007), the “colorful” names of the criminals; like Hector Elizondo as Grey; Oscar-winner Martin Balsam as Green; and Robert Shaw as Blue (he went on to play the unforgettable Quint in Jaws the following year) – it all came together as few films do today – in a brilliant, gritty and realistic portrayal of terror, desperation and will. But with just the right amount of humor – and without the need for some cheesy comic relief – just real laughs.

The story takes place underground in New York City’s subway system, just outside Pelham Station. A gang of armed and determined men hijack a train, threatening to kill one hostage per minute unless their demands are met. Forced to stall the unknown assailants until a ransom is delivered or a rescue is made, transit chief Lt. Garber (originally Matthau and now Denzel Washington) must ad-lib, bully, con and shrewdly outmaneuver a cruel villain (originally Shaw and now John Travolta) in a battle of wits that will either end heroically or tragically.

I am very interested to see what has been done to the film, but I don’t think anyone can say flat out it’s going to suck, with distinguished talent like Denzel Washington, John Travolta, John Turturro and “Tony Soprano” himself, James Gandolfini, as major of the city of New York, on the roster.

Fuck it, I can’t wait for the inevitable Uber-Edition of the original film on Blu-ray, in any case.

Below is the trailer for the new film, which hits theaters on June 12, 2009.

Below is the trailer for the original 1974 classic cat-and-mouse thriller, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.

Below is the opening credits of the original film, which highlights the powerful score.

Find out more about The Taking of Pelham 123 at the film’s official website

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