Saturday, 31 May 2014

Last Passenger (2013)

"Last Passenger: High speed thriller starring Dougray Scott as a passenger on a runaway train that is hurtling towards Hastings"

Yup. That's what I read in the Radio Times. That's what sold me. This train, taken over by a madman, isn't hurtling towards New York. It isn't hurtling towards Chicago. It's hurtling towards the East Sussex seaside town and borough of Hastings!

I knew in that instant that I just had to watch this film. It's Hectic Dangerday! It's Colossal Velocity played straight. It's po-faced Partridge!

Joking aside, I've always had a soft spot for thrillers set on trains. There's something fundamentally intriguing and exciting about seeing a group of disparate people thrown together in such a confined mode of transport, finding themselves up against it. The Lady Vanishes, The Taking of Pelham 123, Silver Streak, North West Frontier, even Murder On The Orient's a rich seam. As I've said though, in terms of high octane terrorist thrillers, this is usually the territory of America so it's somewhat weird and fun to see a British film take a shot at such a genre. Naturally it's punching a little above its weight and it is hampered by the fact that a British audience doesn't necessarily find it as easy to suspend their disbelief when watching far fetched action occurring in cities, towns and rail networks that they're familiar with, but there's still enough to amuse and entertain here helped immeasurably by its cast including Scott, Kara Tointon, David Schofield, Iddo Goldberg and the glorious Lindsay Duncan. It's just a shame Duncan is really wasted in a nothing role, whilst Goldberg is saddled with a hopeless accent he cannot convince with - much like his performance in Peaky Blinders, except here its a standard Eastern European voice as opposed to the Birmingham he so mangled in that series. David Schofield invests much in the otherwise cliched role of the obnoxious and anxious businessman who is initially loathe to believe or help, but it is perhaps the Scott and Tointon's film. The most convincing interplay comes from Scott in his scenes as a widowed father returning home from an evening out with his young son, played by Joshua Kaynama, it's a very believable and striking father/son relationship. Meanwhile Tointon, playing Scott's potential love interest, performs her role in a manner that would surprise some viewers with preconceived ideas about soap and reality TV stars.

This is the debut film of writer and director Omid Nooshin. He does a fine job of setting up the suspense, capturing the hazy and somewhat disorientating long late night train ride home after an exhausting day very well - those moments of waking sleep, the glimpses of who knows what beyond a rain lashed compartment window and the mystery of what goes on in the driver's cab - but he drops the ball somewhat (for me, at least) once the action commences which, for a thriller, is somewhat unforgiveable. On the whole though, one has to give him kudos for not only creating something like this first time out on such a low budget and for having the balls to keep the thriller intriguingly motiveless.

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