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Feature
Tony Scott On Tony Scott
The glorious career of the action great in his own words

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The Taking Of Pelham 123 (2009)

The Taking Of Pelham 123

Scott’s first remake is really more of a riff on the 1974 original, with Denzel Washington playing a New York Subway engineer desperately trying to negotiate with John Travolta’s crazed kidnapper, holding a train full of passengers hostage.

It sounds strange, but shooting Pelham was a bit like shooting Crimson Tide. With that one, it was you couldn’t really get out of the sub. With this one, two-thirds of the movie is two guys on the phone to each other. It’s very different from the original.

Brian Helgeland did the screenplay, he’s part of our ‘extended family’. Brian came to me with it. He said, ‘Listen, I’ve done a version of this — it’s not the Pelham you remember, but it’s a version of it.’ And whenever Brian brings me anything I’m interested. I thought, ‘What can I remember about the original Pelham?’ I remembered Walter Matthau and his pants halfway up his ankles. A great character with a sardonic view of life.

But even whan I saw it back in the ’70s I had thought it didn’t make sense. Holding hostages in a subway. It’s a cul-de-sac. But then we reinvented it. We found a real guy who was just out of prison and we took his story. The Travolta character is really based upon him. He was Brooklyn-born, ended up on Wall Street. He had been set up during a previous crime and lost everything. So he hatched this plan where he takes revenge on the entire city.

It was really appealing and terrifying, two guys on the phone for an hour. Travolta plays it beautifully, but it’s all from the real guy. He’s funny, he’s fucked-up. He’s dangerous. Denzel liked it because in this he’s playing The Guy Next Door, which he’s never done in any other movie. The odd steal I did for this one was I borrowed from (Francis Ford Coppola-produced art film) Koyaanisqatsi to depict New York — which I thought was kind of the bad guy in the movie!
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Your Comments

1 Revenge?
Where's 'Revenge'?! More

Posted by sredd on Saturday August 25, 2012, 17:40

2 Deja Vu...where is it...??
where da heck's Deja vu..?? i think of all Tony-Denzel collaborations THAT's the best one, second only to Crimson Tide. it's got Denzel, a Batman (Val Kilmer), the new girl from Mission: Impossible 4 (the pretty and pre-mom Paula Patton) and Jesus friggin' Christ Himself (Jim Caviezel). the plot's not that original and intriguing, nonetheless. it's got cool action set pieces and Tony's style didn't go TOO overwhelming that it distracts from the story, like it did with Man on Fire and Domino. i'm sad Tony's gone now...but, i wish he coulda done another collaboration with Tom Cruise in a reunion project. More

Posted by Avengers12 on Friday August 24, 2012, 14:14

3 Always remember
You sometimes forget how many great films people direct until they pass away. Tony may not have been recognised by Oscars, but no one can deny that he will be recognised by the public, the people that matter when it comes to films that he was the master of action and entertainment. More

Posted by only1brams on Wednesday August 22, 2012, 20:42

4 Things Are Missing!
There are several films missing from this list, Enemy of the State, Spy Games whats going oh here? More

Posted by Joe Cohen on Tuesday August 21, 2012, 20:13

5 Wait a minute......
Top Gun was literally HEROIC when it came out. Yes, it was a flamboyant copy of An Officer and a Gentleman (at the time) - bloke joining Naval Airforce, motorbike, dead mate etc, but for a 10-15yr old boy, this was extreme high jingoistic action with no homo-erotic mention at the time. Listen, all films suffer aging at some point, but growing up in the mid-80's this WAS rock n roll As per previous posts, this type of balls-out film making will be sorely missed, especially as you can see from 80's, thought the 90's to the 00's.....the guy just got better and stronger then the previous outing God bless, TS More

Posted by Lol78 on Tuesday August 21, 2012, 20:11

6 THE FAN, ENEMY OF THE STATE, SPY GAME
It really bugs me that The Fan, Enemy of the State and Spy Game were all left out. The Fan is probably his most underrated film, Enemy is a cracking action film and Spy Game is brilliant!! Please, please include them!!!! More

Posted by PANDAPOP1 on Tuesday August 21, 2012, 13:49

7 Where's Enemy of the State?
Where's Enemy Of The State? It is very odd that it is not listed. More

Posted by Josh91 on Tuesday August 21, 2012, 10:13

8 I love TRUE ROMANCE
It's in the top 10 of my top 500 best movies ever. More

Posted by kielerkai on Tuesday August 21, 2012, 09:01

9 @MuckyMuckMan
Top Gun is hardly a misfire - it's the first film mentioned in every obituary for the great man. It still has the best aerial action ever committed to celluloid. Loved reading this again, Empire, thanks. It reminded me what a lovely down-to-Earth, no-nonsense guy he was, and how many happy hours at the cinema he provided me with over my lifetime. Cinema just became a bit more boring now he's gone. More

Posted by Garth_Marenghi on Tuesday August 21, 2012, 04:22

10 RIP Action Maestro
A very sad day to lose one of the best action movie directors of all time. OK he misfired from time to time (Domino, Top Gun, Days of Thunder) but he's also made classics such as True Romance, Man on Fire, Crimson Tide and the ultimate guilty pleasure of The Last Boyscout. R.I.P. Tony you'l be incredibly missed. More

Posted by MuckyMuckMan on Monday August 20, 2012, 21:40

11 tony scott - amazing director
true romance and crimson tide are two of my favourites RIP tony More

Posted by Count Karnstein on Monday August 20, 2012, 12:57

12
"But I love the adventure and excitement. I mean, we had four bulletproof cars stolen. We had kids turning up shirtless at 3am on crystal meth carrying Uzis. We just said, ‘Fuck it — take the cars." That's crazy, I had no idea the Man on Fire shoot was so dangerous. RIP Tony, you'll be sorely missed. More

Posted by Whistler on Monday August 20, 2012, 11:33


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