Comedy duo Key & Peele make their big-screen debut in Keanu. Read up on the stolen-cat comedy and this week's other new releases in our In Theaters section, where you can watch trailers, buy tickets, and more.
I find movies from the 1930's surprisingly unpredictable. The era produced several wonderful movies that were in many ways well ahead of their time and never seem to go out of date. I think of "Gone With The Wind" or "Mutiny On The Bounty" or even "The Wizard Of Oz" as examples. Then you get "Exile Express." It simply looks and feels old - and I suspect it started to feel that way very quickly.
The "exile express" is a train taking a group of deportees from San Fransisco to Ellis Island, where they'll bid farewell to America. The "exiles" we're introduced to are an apparent gangster, a likely Bolshevik, and Nadine (Anna Sten), an assistant to a scientist who has developed a sort of pesticide that can also be a horribly lethal weapon. Some foreign power wants to get the formula, and the authorities suspect that Nadine is involved in the plot. She isn't, but she's ordered deported anyway, and the movie becomes the story of her journey and attempt to find a way to stay in the U.S.
The problem is that there isn't a particularly well-developed story here. There seem to be huge gaps in the plot, one of the key twists in the movie (revealing one of the foreign agents) is given far too early and the characters aren't that well developed. Even the foreign nation looking to steal the formula isn't named, although my guess, given the story as it is and when the movie was made, is that it's Nazi Germany. (I believe at one point Nadine said she had an "Uncle Berchtold" - which sounds German to me.) Sten's performance is pretty good, and the other saving grace was the comedic performance of Walter Catlett as Gus, a newspaper reporter who's covering the exile express. Nothing much else leaped out at me as worthy of note in this, however. 3/10
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