Sunday, April 27, 2014

"The Last Passenger" is a UK thriller in the genre of "runaway train" movies

The Last Passenger” gives us an image from film-noir thriller territory:  a runaway passenger training, piercing the night with its headlights, heading its passengers toward doom.
I’ve actually covered this scenario before a couple times on my “cf” (Films on major challenges to freedom) as with “Unstoppable” on Nov. 13, 2010.  I’ve also covered the issue of trains being contaminated or threatened with devices as in “Source Code” (April 2, 2011) and  “The Cassandra Crossing” (March 3, 2010), as well as History Channel’s “Glow Train” (June 24, 2008).  I vaguely remember seeing the 1985 “Runaway Train” in Dallas (from the Cannon Group, with Jon Voigt, directed by Andrey Konchalovsky). And don't forget Disney's "The Great Locomotive Chase" in the 1950s.  More distant in subject matter are "Night Train" and "Transsiberian". 

This British film, by Omid Nooshin, puts a few passengers on a commuter train, and lets them deal with the gradual realization that the train is out of control and speeding toward apocalypse.  The engineer seems to be unreachable, and may be a terrorist.  Or maybe the terrorist is one of the passengers.  During the course of the film, the passengers try all kinds of tricks to decouple the cars that model railroaders would know well. 
The central character is a doctor, Lewis Shaler (Dougray Scott), with his son.  There is a “cigarette smoking man” (Iddo Goldberg) and a bizarre geek-bookworm (David Shofield), and a train guard (Samuel Geker-Kawie).

The film is shot 2.35:1, which may be unnecessary given the limited set of the film; but the outdoor shots of the train, especially once it is in two parts and barrels through a station on fire, are striking.  I don’t see how it could hit a car or the mouth of a tunnel and stay on track.

The film, from Cohen Media Group, is showing at only one theater in the DC area, in the Fair Oaks area of Fairfax County at a Regal.  The crowd Saturday afternoon was sparse.  But this seems like typical FilmfestDC material.

The official site is here. 

The music score, by Liam Bates, echoes Stravinsky (quoting “The Firebird” and “The Rite of Spring”) and the closing credits offer an impressive tone poem as a concert work that could stand on its own.   It ends abruptly, like "Rite of Sprin" but then provides one dying arpeggio, pianissimo, to wind down and end quietly after all.  

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