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DVD Review: Night Train (2009)

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Night Train is a "what if" story about three strangers traveling on a train on Christmas Eve who come across treasure by way of a very dead passenger. The three struggle with whether or not to do the right thing (notify the authorities) or dispose of the body and keep said treasure for themselves.

Very quickly, each shows his or her true colors. The veteran, by-the-books train conductor, played by Danny Glover, wants to call for help and be done with the issue. The alcohol-guzzling, slapstick salesman, played by Steve Zahn, is ready to take the treasure but is unsure of what to do with the body. And a young pre-med student headed home for the holidays, played by Leelee Sobieski, is calm, cool, collected and, ultimately, makes the decision for all of them (and her pre-med training comes in handy regarding the body's disposal).

Night Train has an intriguing enough plot, but all three veteran actors in the film disappoint. Glover (the Lethal Weapon franchise) is both bored-seeming and boring in his role, Sobieski (88 Minutes) overdoes her chop-happy role, and Zahn (Joy Ride) brings a little too much slapstick and not enough substance to his role.

Then there are the ridiculous special effects that seem more cartoonish than CGI. All exterior shots showing the train hurtling down the tracks in a snowstorm look more like cartoon drawings than real exterior scenes. (Ironically, the film was shot on location in Bulgaria, which is surprising given the fact that I was betting all exterior shots were created on a soundstage somewhere in Pasadena.)

The film also stars Matthias Schweighoefer (Feardotcom), Geoff Bell (Scoop), and Richard O’Brien (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), and was written by and is the feature film directorial debut of Brian King, whose previous screenwriting credits include Cypher, starring Jeremy Northam and Lucy Liu.

Night Train is rated R by the MPAA for “violent content and some language,” and has a 91-minute run time. Bonus features on the DVD include a standard fare “making of” featurette, including interviews with the cast and crew; a trailer for the film; and a photo gallery. The film is presented with Spanish and SDH English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.

While Night Train does remind me of a Stephen King movie of the week or even an a episode of The Twilight Zone, there's not enough good to overshadow the low-effect, B-acted suspense/thriller.

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