Night Train (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Drama / Mystery / Thriller
NEM || R - 91 minutes - $24.98 || July 7, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-07-04


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: M. Brian King
Writer(s): M. Brian King
Cast: Danny Glover, Leelee Sobieski, Steve Zahn


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Featurette
  • Interviews
  • Photo Gallery
  • Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Although not a unique film, Night Train is a thoroughly enjoyable thriller with a good measure of dark comedy. If I had to compare it with other films that have come before, it would be a mix between Murder on the Orient Express, The Shining and I guess Clue as well.

Night Train stars Danny Glover as Miles, the trainís veteran conductor; Steve Zahn playing Peter Dobbs, a failed salesman; and Leelee Sobieski as Chloe White, a young med student on her way home. The trio stumbles upon a mysterious object when its owner accidentally overdoses on pills and vodka. What exactly this object is, we donít actually get to see but apparently it is worth upwards of $5 million.

After a debate about the morality of taking this object and splitting the proceeds with one another, they now have the problem if disposing of the dead man as he never had a ticket and with a valuable object, someone surely will be looking for it. They come up with the brilliant plan to stuff the corpse into a large trunk, toss it overboard into a lake that would soon be freezing over. Unfortunately the only trunk available is too small after which, when Miles makes a decision to call the death in ó and thus end their deal ó Chloe, being a med student, proceeds to chop up the body so it will fit. And so the trouble begins as the best laid tactics rarely go according to plan.

Soon enough they are at one anotherís throats to be the sole heir to this mysterious object and with the possibility of others wanting it as well, things get complicated real quick.

Night Train actually surprised me in that while it is an obviously low-budget movie based on some poor CGI graphics of the outer train as it moves along the tracks, it had an interesting story with characters that werenít just cardboard cutouts thanks in large part to three talented actors. This goes especially to Danny Glover, an actor who has gracefully aged and shows he still has what it takes to take a lead role.

In his directorial debut and only his third credited screenplay (previously wrote Cypher with Jeremy Northam and TV Movie The Day the World Ended with Randy Quaid), Brian King presents a darkly funny but still stimulating story about the consequences of greed and how it can destroy oneís soul if it becomes too great. Itís not a subtle film with subtle performances by any means, but I thought it was well written and adequately directed give the budget.

I donít want to overstate the film and say itís a modern classic, because it isnít, but for the budget and a story that isnít entirely recycled, I liked it a lot. Leelee Sobieski, who has been doing a few lower-budgeted films of late Ė or making minor appearances in bigger films like Public Enemies Ė is pretty good where she once again dresses down for a bit of titillating viewing (also check her out in Walk All Over Me). Steve Zahn also does a fine job playing the outright comedic part, with a smarmy personality mixed in.

Would I recommend Night Train? I certainly would, but donít expect it to be some horror/suspense thriller, because it isnít even though the cover seems to show otherwise. If you go in not knowing what to expect, you too might be surprised by how much youíll enjoy it. The film is briskly paced (only 85-minutes or so minus opening and ending credits) and the story is engaging enough to peek and keep my interesting until the very end.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Not a whole lot in terms of features:

Thereís a motion photo gallery (2:12) that scrolls through pictures taken from the film; several interviews (28:13) segments with the cast (Glover, Sobieski, Zahn) and crew (director, producers, SFX makeup), most are informal and feature them talking about what drew them to the story; Night Train: The Making of (22:50) is a basic behind-the-scenes look at how the movie was made, comments from the cast and crew (including most of the footages used in those interviews) and things of that nature; and the film's trailer is also included.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Night Train is presented in 1080p high-def with a 1.78 aspect ratio. The film, while fairly clean of dust and scratches, just doesnít look that good in HD. The picture itself is soft, colors look washed out (perhaps the directorís intentions) and detail levels arenít what Iíve come to expect on Blu-ray.

Equally disappointing is the lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The film isnít all dialogue with some gunfire and the roaring engine of a train making up the rest of the track. Overall, the audio just sounded awfully soft with low levels especially when dialogue is concerned. Also, the rear channels didnít get much use and the subwoofer barely clicked on at all. Now, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is, oddly enough, a tad stronger so you may want to switch to that track, though itís still not fantastic...



.::OVERALL::.

Night Train is a surprisingly well-made little mystery-thriller with three good performances and an interesting story that kept me interested from beginning to end. Unfortunately both the audio and video arenít the greatest (probably due to a low budget) and the features arenít anything to get excited over, but since the Blu-ray can actually be had (new) for a few dollars less than the DVD, it may be worth picking up.


Note: The screen caps here were taken from the DVD and do not necessarily represent the true quality of the Blu-ray.