Final Run (1999 TV Movie)
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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.
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.
Some striking British Columbia scenery and an okay climax lift things a bit but as was so often the case Urich deseved better. Mediocre.
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?
It's absolutely awful ... see it!
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!
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.
If you want to watch an academy award winning film this is not it. However, if you want to get away for awhile and believe that ordinary people can to extraordinary things this maybe for you. Make sure you see Final Desent first though. Enjoy!!