Reverse-engineering and Rip-offs in The Taking of Pelham 123
05.20.09 by REELZ
In an interview with Film Journal, director Tony Scott explains that for him making a movie is a lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. He doesn't start with a complete script. Instead he starts with the real-life situations and characters he is interested in and tries to figure out how they might work together.
For example, he says he "reverse-engineered" Ryder, the lead hijacker in The Taking of Pelham 123 starting with a real former New York City contractor with a chip on his shoulder for doing 12 years in prison. This gave him a template for a character motivated by revenge and also helped set the stage for what he calls "the third character" in the movie, the city that wronged Ryder.
Scott, who calls himself a "great plagiarist," isn't afraid to borrow liberally from earlier movies either. And the influences aren't always what you might expect. The complicated time-lapse sequence of New York City at the beginning of Pelham is, he confesses, a "rip-off" of a scene from the 1982 documentary Koyaanisqatsi.