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The Taking of Pelham 123 [2009] [R] - 4.7.10



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


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Remake of the 1973 film about armed criminals (John Travolta and Luis Guzman) who execute a seemingly foolproof plan to hijack a New York City subway car and take its occupants hostage. Denzel Washington stars as a Transit Authority worker, who has to confront his own personal demons while trying to keep the passengers safe. Also with Victor Gojcaj, John Turturro and James Gandolfini. Directed by Tony Scott. [1:35]

SEX/NUDITY 4 - A young woman is shown removing her shirt in a striptease fashion while her boyfriend watches on a computer screen; her bra is fully exposed. A woman and man, fully clothed, are shown standing very close to one another, and their bodies touch suggestively. A young woman's bare shoulder and bra strap are shown.
 A man makes a comment about another man having "a sexy voice" and makes a crude reference to prison rape. A man is asked aloud in front of a group of people if he had an extramarital affair, and he does not respond. A man makes a joke about another person having slept with his wife. A man poses a seemingly unrelated question to another man, "Was she worth it?" and is given the response, "Yes" (implying an extramarital affair).

VIOLENCE/GORE 7 - Two men are surrounded by dozens of armed police, they all open fire, the two men are shown being riddled with countless bullets, their bodies lurching as the bullets strike them and blood erupts from the wounds; the men fall to the ground and we see their bloodied bodies.
 A man steps in front of a gun that is being held on another person and the man is shot three times in the chest (his body flinches and blood spurts), and collapses to the ground with a thump while other people are terrified.
 A sniper accidentally discharges his weapon after a rat crawls up his pant leg and a man is shown being shot in the forehead: blood and tissue erupt from the bullet wound covering walls and windows, the man slumps over and there's a bloodied bullet hole between his eyebrows and we see blood trickling down into his eye and on his nose (the body, and the wall and window are shown in several additional scenes, including a close up).
 A man with a bloodied face is shown being shot point-blank in the chest: shots are heard ringing out, blood is shown bursting from the wounds and he slumps over. A man is shot in the chest and blood is shown splattering onto the face of a woman standing beside him as he falls to the ground. A man holds another man at gunpoint while the man taunts him and tells him to shoot or he would shoot him, and one of the men is shot at point-blank range in the chest and the bloodied wound is shown as he falls to the ground.
 A man violently grabs a young man from a crowd and holds a gun to his forehead while screaming at him; the man threatens to shoot him and begins to count down but does not fire and walks away. A man screams violently for a woman to stand up and he points a gun to her face threatening to kill her, while her young child stands at her side (she is not shot). A man holds a gun to the head of another man who is punched by another man; the man drops to the ground and we see the man later with blood over his nose, mouth and chin.
 A body covered with blood spatters is shown lying, mouth agape, on the ground. A man is shown with a bandage on his nose. A woman with blood on her face is seen leading a group of people.
 Men are shown sneaking onto subway cars, holding a gun to the back of a woman and threatening her with being shot; she is punched in the face and we see her with a bloody nose. A door is violently kicked open and a man charges through holding a handgun. In a heated shouting match, a man threatens another man, saying that he is going to "get one in the head" and that he is going to harm him and his family. Two people are shown in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle and one of the men flashes an obscene hand gesture; the man aiming the rifle says he hopes he is the one responsible for "taking them down." A man forces himself through a crowded subway car by pointing his gun at another man. A man is shown using a handgun to halt a vehicle, which he then steals after forcing the driver out. A man is shown running through city streets holding a handgun.
 A subway car comes to a halt as a brake is pulled, and while the passengers are jolted by the sudden stop there are no evident injuries. A subway car is shown racing out of control, observers comment that the car will derail, probably leading to the death of the occupants, the occupants are shown in scared and are thrown when the car comes to a sudden stop (we see no apparent injuries). Cars are shown driving recklessly through city streets, one car is violently t-boned by a semi, it rolls on its top, crushes over a taxi, flips off an overpass, and causes two other vehicles to slam into it (two bloodied men are pulled from the car). A motorcycle crashes into a car, and the rider is thrown over the car and lands on the ground (no blood is shown but the victim is motionless). Several other cars are shown crashing together when other cars speed through streets. A man walks across train tracks in front of a speeding subway twice (he is not harmed).
 A man demands the immediate death of two people after he hears shots fired and hears a person yelling that someone was shot. A man states that people must die and that the decision of who will and will not die is in the hands of another person. A man continually refers to people as having a price, and that he will begin to execute one person per minute. A man offers to trade the lives of 17 people for one life. Terrorism and the threat of terrorism are discussed. A woman refers to any person "waving guns" as being a terrorist, and a man scoffs at the idea of terrorism and jokingly refers to himself as a terrorist. People discuss the death of three people after an inebriated driver wrecks the subway car they were riding. A man states that he believes he might be shot, he discusses his own possible death on multiple occasions, and demands that another man shoot him. A man laughs when another man says, "I'm going to die today." A man describes how remembering a time he watched a dog defecate helped him defecate in prison.
 The police and S.W.A.T. teams and many men are shown wielding rifles, handguns and sniper rifles, and guns are used to threaten people throughout the movie.
 A man states that he needs to urinate (using a crude term), he is instructed to turn his back to the people in a crowded subway car and urinate out the door and a zipper is heard unzipping, but he is unable to urinate. A young boy in the same crowded subway car says he needs to urinate, a zipper is heard unzipping and we see a stream of urine.

PROFANITY 10 - About 92 F-words and its derivatives, 1 obscene hand gesture, 16 scatological terms, 11 anatomical terms, 15 mild obscenities, derogatory terms for women in music lyrics, name-calling (idiot, crazy, sleazebag, greaseball, bad penny, dumb, mockingly calling a person "buddy boy" and "baby boy" multiple times), 7 religious profanities, 6 religious exclamations. [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - A man is offered a beer, a person says he wishes he was on a beach holding a Piña colada, there is a discussion of using cough syrup and that it caused inebriation, and a man discusses having a severe hangover after a long night of drinking.

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Terrorism, hijacking, theft, bribery, larceny, institution of marriage, extramarital affairs, politics, political scandal, bravery, heroism, stock market, drugs, guns, weapon safety, violent threats, greed, violence, revenge, death, disregard for human life, New York Police Department, public transportation, public safety, Catholicism, fate, luck, fear of dying.

MESSAGE - Greed and revenge can lead to grief and violence.

Special Keywords: S4 - V7 - P10 - MPAAR

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A CAVEAT: We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and some of our early standards were not as stringent as they are now. We therefore need to revisit many older reviews, especially those written prior to 1998 or so; please keep this in mind if you're consulting a review from that period. While we plan to revisit and correct older reviews our resources are limited and it is a slow, time-consuming process.

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