Night Train (2009)
|Genre(s): Drama / Mystery / Thriller|
|National Entertainment Media || R - 91 minutes - $24.98 || July 7, 2009|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-07-11|
Writer(s): M. Brian King (written by)
Cast: Danny Glover, Leelee Sobieski, Steve Zahn
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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.
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::.
Night Train is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78 aspect ratio) and overall, this is a fairly innocuous video transfer. Most of the time it is soft and color doesnít exactly jump off the screen either.
The DVD comes with your standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track (along with 2.0 as well) and like the video, itís acceptable, just donít expect anything impressive to come out of it.
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.