A runaway train tale is a disaster made for the movies. It happens in real
time, a ticking clock thriller where “the end of the line” is literally the end
of the line for its victims. We learn which characters have “character” over the course of the crisis.
The special effects don’t have to be exotically special. And every now and
then, this sort of thing really happens. So yeah, we buy into it.
It’s no wonder that movies from “Runaway Train” to “Unstoppable” have
succeeded with this simple plot line.
“Last Passenger” is a London commuter train runaway tale, a handful of people on The Hastings line who notice they’re skipping stops, that something happened to the porter/guard on board, that the brakes don’t work. What will, what can they do?
Lewis (Dougray Scott of “My Week With Marilyn”) is headed home to Tunbridge Wells, a doctor who expects to drop off his kid (Joshua Kaynama) and be in surgery “in 47 minutes.” It’s the holidays, and he’s in a rush. Then, suspicious people show up and suspicious things start to happen.
Sarah (Kara Tointon of “The Sweeney”) is a friendly and somewhat flirtatious
blond who indulges the doctor’s kid and suggests a perhaps too-keen interest in who he is and what he does. His son “outs him” as being able to read people’s medical history by just looking at them.
“Guess my condition,” Sara flirts.
“Heart murmur,” he says. He could confirm it by doing this and that, checking
her chest, her heartbeat to listen for a symptom called a “thrill.”
“So, you’d feel me for a thrill?” she flirts some more.
Then there’s Jan (Iddo Goldberg), an aggressive Polish punk who seems to have a grudge against the world.
The prickly businessman (David Schofield) furiously demands that they wait
for “the authorities” to solve their woes. Too furiously?
So the doctor scrambles to keep the kid calm and find a way to get to the
engineer or whoever is making the train hurtle through the London suburbs at 100 miles per hour.
Director Omid Nooshin gives this story harrowing touches largely through
arresting camera angles and aggressive editing. He ensures that “Last Passenger” features a couple of jaw-dropping moments even as it traverse familiar ground.
Too little is done with the mystery and the mysterious passengers. Is one of
them in on it, and if so, why? Is there a faceless someone in the locomotive, an entity/driver straight from Steven Spielberg’s breakout film, “Duel”?
As the few passengers frantically try to break open this door or that hatch,
deafening blasts of the horn scare them off and jolt the viewer.
And as familiar as this set up is and these “types” are, “Last Passenger”
works, a modest thrill ride that may make you reconsider your public transit
plans the next time you need to get from London to Tunbridge Wells or further on down the line.
MPAA Rating: R for language
Cast: Dougray Scott, Kara Tointon, Iddo Goldberg, David Schofield, Lindsay
Credits: Directed by Omid Nooshin, written by Omid Nooshin and Andy Love. A
Cohen Media release. Running time: 1:36
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