A film that significantly improves as it progresses, Night Train’s final 30 minutes make up for the 60 that come before it. Writer/Director M. Brian King’s attempt at a Hitchcockian thriller like 1951’s Strangers on a Train has all the key elements, but not all of them work. He even utilizes the tried and true Hitchcock convention of the MacGuffin, the source of the chaos that ultimately envelopes the characters.
Is it a thriller? Noir? Murder-mystery?
Let’s take a look at the three stars that join forces to bring Night Train to life.
Glover, as far as I’m concerned in a film legend. From the Lethal Weapon Franchise and The Color Purple, to his turn in the Saw series and the upcoming disaster flick 2012, Glover delivers powerful and spirited performances no matter the role. The same applies to his role of Miles the Conductor in Night Train. He’s the reserved moral compass of the movie; doing his best to fo what’s right. I kept waiting for him to utter his classic Lethal Weapon line, “I’m getting to old for this shit” at least once, but it doesn’t happen. What’s interesting to me is that a legendary actor like Glover would undertake a direct-to-DVD project like this. Despite the lack of a wide theatrical release, Glover manages to get the job done.
Sobieski’s acting skills have always rubbed me the wrong way. She either comes off as too stiff or as if she’s just reading her lines. However, in Night Train she pulls off what I would consider her best acting performance. There’s something about how she interprets her character Chloe and how her character develops over the course of the film that’s really effective. Sobieski comes across and relaxed and in total control of her character. I wish I could say the same for her performances in Public Enemies, Deep Impact, and Here on Earth. Well done, Leelee!
Zahn and Sobieski co-starred together in the 2001 thriller Joy Ride, but here they play off each other much more effectively. Zahn sheds his goofball image and plays Pete, a drunk salesman, who’s greed and lust get the best of him. It’s hard to take him seriously, which is an issue with most comic actors placed in films like this. I kept thinking of his role in Saving Silverman opposite Jason Biggs and the once funny Jack Black. Zahn manages to create a awkward and seemingly regular Joe who wants a better life and is willing to do whatever he can to achieve it.
And yes, Mrs. Froy is played by a dude. And that dude is Rocky Horror Picture Show alum Richard O’Brien.
There are a lot of special features for the film. Along with the official trailer and stills, you get:
The Making of Night Train
A 22 minute documentary that takes you behind-the-scenes of this train-based thriller. Interviews with cast and crew, along with a look at the film’s computer and make-up effects are included.
Interviews/Soundbites with Cast and Crew
It’s exactly what is described above. Little interview snippets that can be used as quotes for articles about the film by the cast and crew. Not the best quality video, but what’s said is intended to be quoted, not necessarily viewed.
If you’ve got time to kill, I recommend Night Train. If you can make it past the first hour, the last 30 minutes are worth the time. Of course, you can always just skip to the last 30 if you really want to.