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Sandbox / The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three 2009

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A 2009 Heist Film, starring Denzel Washington as Walter Garber and John Travolta as the leader of the hijackers, which itself is a remake of the 1974 film, which in turn is based on a book of the same name.

The 2009 version of The Taking of Pelham 123 splits the Walther Matthau character of Zachary Garber into two persons (Denzel Washington as MTA Dispatcher Walter Garber, and John Turturro as NYPD Hostage Negotiator Detective Camonetti). Both have an ordinary day thrown into chaos by an audacious crime: the hijacking of a New York City Subway train that is in Garber's charge.


John Travolta co-stars as Ryder, the criminal mastermind who is leader of a highly-armed gang of four, including a subway-knowledgeable henchman, Phil Ramos (played by Luis Guzman). He threatens to execute the train's passengers unless a large ransom is paid within one hour. Adding to the trouble, Ryder refuses to speak to Detective Camonetti, forcing Garber to negotiate with him directly. As the tension mounts beneath his feet, Garber employs his vast knowledge of the subway system in a battle to outwit Ryder and save the hostages.


This Film Provides Examples Of:

  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: A trained NYPD sniper shows exceedingly poor trigger discipline by resting his finger on the trigger while awaiting the order to take the shot. See I Just Shot Marvin in the Face below.
  • Big Applesauce: Where else is someone gonna hijack a NYC subway train? Also the original novel was written by a born and bred New Yorker.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: On a runaway train car filled with screaming passengers a young man takes a moment to tell his girlfriend he loves her via webcam.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Ryder, to the point where one could mistake him for having motherfuckin' Tourette's.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: It turns out that Ryder is actually a former Wall Street tycoon convicted for fraud. The hostage taking was not for the ransom itself but due to the resulting suspicions of terrorism causing the stock market to plummet, which Ryder makes a massive profit from via put options.
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  • Decoy Getaway: The criminals order all lights set to green and the police cleared off every station to South Ferry, to make it look like they're planning to escape via the river. Actually the train has been rigged to move by itself while the criminals slip out an emergency exit.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Ryder. He's written as Ambiguously Gay, but talks of his female conquests as well.
  • Dramatic Irony: The mayor, informed about the hostage situation, says that he'll take the subway to get there because "it'll be faster."
  • The Everyman: Walter Garber personifies this in his demeanor and occupation as a mid-level public servant.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Ryder says to Walter Garber that he was taller than expected.
  • Failsafe Failure: The Dead Man's Switch in the subway cars are defeated quite ingeniously.
  • Famous Last Words:
    Ryder: You're my goddamn hero.
  • Hollywood Law: Ryder makes Garber confess to taking the bribe. People around him speak as if that is an actual confession, but no one brings up that this confession was made under duress; Garber would have a very solid case in any court of law to have that particular confession thrown out as evidence because if he continued to deny the allegations a man would have died - which is far worse than taking a bribe.
  • Hostage Situation: Hostages are termed "commodities" and traded over to the police for ten million dollars.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: A sniper accidentally fires his gun when a rat walks onto his leg.
  • Info Dump: Several explanations of how subways work. It's handled fairly well.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Generally averted in the movie. One exception is the Boom, Headshot! for Ramos, the ex-motorman.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The mayor grouses, "Why the fuck didn't we use a helicopter to transport the money?"
  • Lemming Cops: The police officers bringing the money rush to the subway entrance, heedless of potential dangers.
  • Mood Dissonance: When TBS offered the 2009 version On Demand, they had their Commercial Pop-Up saying "TBS Very Funny" in the lower right all through a movie that includes seven on-screen deaths and terrified hostages.
  • Never Going Back to Prison: Ryder is dead set against going back to prison, and eventually forces a Suicide by Cop rather than be captured.
  • Porn Stache: Ryder has one.
  • Race Against the Clock: Ryder gives the authorities one hour exactly to comply with his demands, and makes it clear he's not going to compromise.
  • Raised Catholic: Ryder who, for a robber, talks about God an awful lot.
  • Red Herring: The Deputy Mayor points out how the ransom is 10 million because that's the maximum they can withdraw without paperwork hassle. The Mayor asks how the deputy mayor knows this but is cut off, leaving the viewer wondering.
  • The Remake: Of the 1974 movie.
  • Runaway Train: The hijackers turn the train into a runaway as part of their escape plan.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Ramos sees there's a padlock on the power switchboard and starts griping. Bashkim just draws his gun and shoots it.
  • The Sociopath: Ryder in the remake. He spends his time threatening the hostages, killing them when orders aren't being followed, and generally acts like a dickhead who frequently curses.
  • Suicide by Cop: Bashkim and Emri, and later on, Ryder.
  • Technology Marches On: The remake had quite a job in adapting the hijackers' plan to fit improvements in transit security since the '70s.
  • Tempting Fate: For years after the 1974 movie came out, New York Transit Authority dispatchers sought to avoid dispatching any train from Pelham at 1:23, and that is still largely true today.


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