Mixed or average reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 34
  2. Negative: 4 out of 34
  1. 88
    It's a first-class ride. All aboard.
  2. Reviewed by: Jason Buchanan
    While director Tony Scott's brash and boisterous take on the material may lack that certain '70s quirkiness, it gets just about everything else exactly right.
  3. Scott gets into the zip and rush of urban energy with an enthusiasm bordering on hilarity.
  4. A fast and relentless hostage thriller that never stops.
  5. 80
    Even at a distance from each other (Washington/Travolta), they conduct a tag-team master class in old-style movie star technique, barreling through every cliché and nugget of corn the script has to offer with verve and conviction. Even when you don't really believe them, they're always a lot of fun to watch.
  6. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    More than anything a fascinating portrait of how much New York has changed in 35 years, the film delivers the goods in excitement and big-star charisma.
  7. 80
    Crisp supporting turns by John Turturro (as a hostage negotiator) and James Gandolfini (as the mayor) combine with plenty of vehicular mayhem to make this a superior diversion.
  8. 75
    The new "Pelham," although no classic, is a lot of fun if you're in the right mood.
  9. Has all the usual virtues of a good action suspense drama, but it lacks that extra something - that context, that vital interchange - that made the original "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" such a memorable experience in 1974.
  10. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    The new Pelham takes the chilling original premise and modifies it for an era steeped in technology, making for an energetic and engrossing adaptation.
  11. 75
    Gripping and compelling, and doesn't make us wish we had checked our brains at the theater entrance.
  12. Tony Scott pushes all the right buttons, crafting a worthy -- and in many ways, a superior -- update.
  13. So professionally done you rarely have the luxury of taking your eyes off the screen.
  14. 67
    The film is thus more of a technical showcase than a human drama. It's diverting enough until it gets dumb, but so strong from the start is the certainty that dumb is on the way that you can't get too vexed when it finally arrives.
  15. Whereas the original, directed by Joseph Sargent, was essentially a well-oiled B movie, the new incarnation, directed by Tony ("Enemy of the State") Scott, is bristling with high-tech gimcrackery and over-the-top camera flourishes.
  16. 63
    There's not much wrong with Tony Scott's The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, except that there's not much really right about it.
  17. The movie is slick, predictable and, thanks mainly to Washington's canny underplaying, fairly diverting.
  18. Washington offers another of his rock-steady performances, playing a career civil servant with a couple of secrets of his own, but confident, diligent, ready to go the distance for the city he loves.
  19. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    By itself, the new "Pelham" is a solid, suspenseful tale all over again, so long as it stays in the subway tunnels and airless offices of the transit department.
  20. Curiously, despite the ever-energetic Tony Scott at the throttle, the sleek new edition isn't as transporting as it should have been.
  21. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    If Hollywood is going to remake a '70s movie, it might as well be Pelham, and it ought to work as competently as this one. But wouldn't it be nice, once in a while, for Hollywood to turn contemporary traumas into vigorous movies instead of hijacking the anxieties of the past?
  22. An efficiently engineered piece of studio product, enjoyable enough at times, but with an unmistakable assembly-line quality.
  23. 50
    Any chance to generate atmosphere or sustained comedy and melodrama goes down the tubes, often literally.
  24. Watching this Pelham--a money job from its conception--you can believe that there's no other motivation on Earth.
  25. Reviewed by: Jim Ridley
    Scott's redo comes up short in almost every regard against the '74 model--against David Shire's knuckled-brass score, against its mugs' gallery of '70s New York character actors, against Peter Stone's serrated script, and certainly against its wordless punchline.
  26. Reviewed by: John Swansburg
    It's easy to imagine why Pelham's producers wouldn't want Scott's professional but dull picture to be compared with the 1974 classic.
  27. Yet most of the film's energy is generated by flamboyant cinematography and music-video cutting, and much of that energy is false.
  28. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    Pelham One was first class. Pelham Two stuck to the schedule. Pelham Three needs a bus pass.
  29. If a few decent actors play their roles and defend their turf, it doesn't matter how preposterous the whole proposition is.
  30. 30
    Can a director be arrested for the attempted hijack of our emotions?
  31. 25
    Tony Scott’s bracingly awful remake/desecration of the classic ‘70s thriller.
  32. 20
    Loud, abrasive, and featuring performances seemingly calibrated to be heard over the cacophonous roar of Travolta's mad, bad overacting.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 135 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 55
  2. Negative: 12 out of 55
  1. Sep 29, 2011
    Despite the fact that the movie suffered painful cliches during the whole time, "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" is a great,fast paced remake of the 1974 original (never saw it though). The movie's highlight you would want to watch is the frenzied cinematography of director Tony Scott as well as the tense acting of John Travolta and Denzel Washington. Full Review »
  2. Feb 1, 2011
    I'm a fan of the book and '74 film starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. When I saw it it was a great idea of updating the setting to post-9/11 New York. The acting from Denzel Washington and John Travolta is good and the film is like a ticking clock film. The biggest problem is that while the first 2 acts are strong, the third and final act turns into a cliche action movie with loses all the momentum. If they chose and final act similar to the book and original film it would of been a lot better. Full Review »
  3. Sep 10, 2010
    The perfect rental. Not very substantial, but always entertaining and very intense when it needs to be. Denzel and Travolta's good/bad guy relationship is the star of the show here. Full Review »