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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
*** Contain spoilers (not that that's really possible with this film)
Let's face it, this movie is dire. If it were possible to give a negative stars rating on IMDB, this would truly be a -5* film.
Let me quickly run through the plot, such that it is:
1) Big fancy computerised train goes out of control when the computer is short-circuited by a fizzy drink (but the GPS & control-room comms keep on running, luckily). Of course, all of the safety systems fail-dangerous (the opposite of fail-safe).
2) Engineer (that's "driver" if you're British) falls off said train, whilst looking at a BFO fuse which blows up in his face; as fuses tend to do.
3) Robert Ulrich (Glen 'Lucky' Singer, ho ho ho) runs around trying some things out, then falls off the train (which is supposed to be travelling in excess of 80mph). Not one to let such a minor mishap get in his way, he runs up a hill, and jumps back onto the train. (You think I'm making this up, don't you? Well, I assure you, I am not).
4) Control room have option to set a switch ("points" for the Brits) which will fire the train into an embankment, killing all on board. If they don't, it will career of a cliff onto a hospital. Umm, OK then. Our valiant hero is convinced he can do something else, however. Although the points have already been changed, they are reversed - just in the nick of time, of course.
5) Using a convenient SkyCrane helicopter as a brake, Ulrich blows up the carriage/locomotive couplings with some C4 explosive he just happened to have/found (I forget which). Although the rope snaps, the carriages stop anyway, much to the relief of the obligatory critically ill passenger (who seems to make a remarkable recovery towards the end of the flick).
6) Still that loco... Fortunately, by exploding the fizzing remnants of the computer, Ulrich forces the train to jump the track into a convenient gorge on a completely straight piece of track no-where near the hospital. His mate in a helicopter (another one, not the SkyCrane) helps him to safety.
Some films are so bad, they actually become must-see (e.g. "Plan 9 From Outer Space"). This one, however, fails even to make that grade. It's pure twaddle, with absolutely no saving features whatsoever. A jelly is more suspenseful, watching your front lawn grow is more exciting.
And they're ALL on board Americana Rail's crack Grand Royale: the Disposable Engineer, the Cute Little Kid, the Arrogant Politician, the Sick Passenger (who needs immediate help), the New Stepmom (who just wants to fit in), the Ex-Quarterback-who-lost-the-Big-Game (but who gets a new chance to save the day), and... the Unlikely Hero! What I mean is, they've already parodied this sort of film in the "Airplane" series and "The Big Bus". Still, this could have been done very well; but there are so many distracting factual errors that we keep getting thrown off....the track. Railroad disaster dramas are hard to pull off, anyway; trains go, or they don't. So they made this one hard to stop, with so many goofy reasons for it that railroaders will be rolling in laughter. (That schtick was tried in 1973's "Runaway", with the same results.) It's not all bad; there is some great British Columbia rail photography to be seen, and the interior scenes are done well. But when the plot says the Grand Royale is doing over 80, we can see it's obviously more like 25 at best, even with the tricky camera angles that are used. Stuff like that is just carelessness. A pity; I wanted to like this movie.
You wonder how stupid a film has to get before you call it a spoof. You
could easily have made this film twice as good by employing Leslie Nielsen
to open the door to the cockpit and say "Good luck, we're all counting on
For me the suspense in these films is made by the realism. Intelligent people doing the sensible things that just don't go right, or the sensibly designed equipment is just not up to the job.
Here we have stupid people doing idiotic things, the laws of physics are completely ignored. Ropes pass through overhead cables. And quite frankly I think I designed a safer locomotive when I was 12. A bird with precise bowel movements could have shorted out this train.
In fact I recommend you watch it backwards, that way you can go from the obvious outcomes to the hilarious and unpredictable reasons that got them into that outcome.
I won't repeat the vast list of technical errors and impossibilities that
the previous commentators made, I think we all spotted them for ourselves.
My comment is in a different direction.
I frequently have issues with commentators who concentrate on technical errors in movies. I think that often they have missed the point. In this movie, however, such commentary is entirely relevant. Here, the entire movie is about (correction, is SUPPOSED to be about) the "technics" of a modern computerised train gone wrong. Thus, in my opinion, in a movie like this, the movie makers have an obligation (to their own credibility, if nothing else) to get the technical details right, because in theory, that's what their movie is trying to show! If they don't, they suffer the consequences: as so many of the other commentators said, the movie becomes a spoof of itself.
Also, and I'm a bit surprised that no-one else has picked up this point, I would have thought that by 1999 we would have gotten past the cliche of "infallible computer fails". Or was this some kind of twisted pre-Y2K hype?
Every trite cliche, every sub-plot imaginable, combine to make this the most awful piece of trash I have ever seen. From stepmother/step son conflict to failed athlete to obnoxious Washington politico(is there any other) a hodge-podge of garbage.
Robert Urich was a perfectly good actor but one who rarely got roles that
stretched him and he spent most of his career doing this type of TVM
It is a disaster movie scenario with the newest,safest train around going
haywire when its "pilot"spills liquid over the computer which controls the
running of the vehicle amd sends it hurtling out of control ,Unless Urich
can save the day passengers and maybe patients in a local hospital are going
Urich ,naturall ,has domestic problems as well with his son estranged from
his stepmother .Add to the brew a pompous Senator,a heart attack victim and
some personable crew members neeed ing to step up to the plate and you have
the ingredients for a dreadfully familiar picture
Some striking British Columbia scenery and an okay climax lift things a bit but as was so often the case Urich deseved better. Mediocre.
There wasn't a moment of this film that I didn't enjoy. It was soooo
bad that it has to be fattening! But because of its terrible script and
using every cliché under the sun, it's hilarious! You have to see this
film just to believe how terrible it is ... but only once! I think this
film is actually a spoof but the creators didn't say this, just to add
to the spoof effect but didn't work out how they planned. One thing
that leads me to believe this may be the case is the sheer amount of
crazy clichés, such as the runaway train with the driver killed, a
passenger who just happens to know how to drive a train, a man having a
heart attack, the rail points jamming until the last second when they
open effortlessly ... the list goes on!
It's absolutely awful ... see it!
This movie has major plot holes. This movie is full of clichés (my
personal worst peever). Much of the acting in this movie was terrible.
What this movie lacks is the smallest reason for watching it.
The clichés are so numerous - in fact, the whole movie is one big cliché - that you can safely predict everything except the mind-boggling plot holes. So there is no way any of the "spoilers" in the comments below, could actually spoil this movie. You will be able to figure out pretty much all that's going to happen, already some 15 minutes into the movie.
You can do something better with your life.
Just had a great time seeing how bad this movie really is. Maybe it was the poor acting, the uninteresting sub-plots or the terrible music score, but the thing is that this is one of the worst movies ever. Do you like bad movies just for the sake of criticizing it? Then this is the one for it.
This is one of the funniest travel-catastrophe movies I've seen... pity
it was meant to be serious!
As soon as the so-called engineer spilled his cup of water into the computer system, I knew it was going to be a stupid movie.
This engineer didn't even know what to do to bypass the computer and was frantically searching through the manual, which he obviously had never read before... some training! (No pun intended.)
The only thing missing from this crappy, ground-based 'Airport' was the elderly stowaway and the nun. We had the pompous politician, the emergency heart attack, the driver (pilot) who fell off the train (really!) and so on...
If you have a choice to see this movie or watch paint dry... go for the paint!
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