Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Last Passenger: Going Express
is the American way to commute. It suddenly does not look so bad for a handful
of Brits trapped on a runaway train. The end of the line looms ominously in
Omid Nooshin’s surprisingly spry thriller Last
opens this Friday in New York.
Shaler tries to be a conscientious single father, but the demands of his
emergency room practice often tax his young son Max’s patience. They are headed
home from London on a redeye express, so Dr. Shaler can perform an emergency
operation. At least they have a volunteer to help them pass the time. There
might even be a halting attraction brewing between Shaler and the charming Ms.
events will interrupt them when Shaler starts to suspect something is amiss.
Initially, nobody wants to get involved in matters like the disappearance of
the porter. However, when the train starts blowing through scheduled station
stops they quickly start to care. It turns out a mystery man has barricaded
himself in the control room and disabled the emergency brakes. Of course, the
outside authorities are slow to react, but it hardly matters. This is a diesel
train, so there is nothing they can do to cut the power.
transportation safety engineers could poke dozens of holes in Nooshin and
Andrew Love’s screenplay, but its internal logic holds together pretty well for
mere mortals. Obviously, there is a massive ticking clock counting down in the
background, but the quiet moments work just as well. Nooshin vividly captures
the eerily detached vibe of a late night train whooshing through nocturnal
blackness. The mix of personality types and tics amongst Shaler’s fellow
passengers also nicely follows in the tradition of great train suspense
stories, going all the back to Hitchcock’s The
Scott has become something of an overlooked leading man since the days of Ever After and MI: 2, but he anchors the film with understated strength and
sensitivity. He definitely comes across as the sort of surgeon who would
inspire confidence in patients. He also develops some relaxed but convincing
chemistry with Kara Tointon’s Barwell. The supporting cast also feels right,
particularly Iddo Goldberg (in a complete change of pace from Kat Coiro’s And While We Were Here) as an Eastern
European immigrant transit worker.
Obviously, the question of who would do such a
thing is hard to ignore, despite the narrative’s considerable tension. Nooshin
& Love suggest (and never refute) a hypothesis that evades hot button
ideological issues, but might be even more disturbing for what it implies
regarding human nature. Regardless, they keep the train hurtling down the
track. Frankly, there is something refreshingly old school about the smaller
scope and corresponding emphasis on character. Recommended with unexpected
affection for general thriller audiences, Last
Passenger opens this Friday (4/25) in New York.
Labels: British Cinema, Dougray Scott