Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

It’s a cold and snowy Christmas Eve and a train that seems to be bound to nowhere is just about to leave its port of call. Some sickly looking dude carrying a box is desperate to get on the train and Miles the conductor (Danny Glover) chooses to let this cat on despite the fact he doesn’t have a ticket. That single act of largesse would prove to be possibly the greatest mistake that Miles might ever make in his rather lengthy life in this movie ‘Night Train’.

So the night train is ripping down the tracks and this sickly dude is put in a car with two of our characters of note in Chloe (Leelee Sobieski) and Pete (Steve Zahn). Chloe is a bespectacled seemingly shy and reserved medical school student while Pete is an obnoxious salesman who is straight riding Chloe’s last nerve. It’s not long before it becomes obvious to the members of this car that the sick dude has gone on to his next destination and Pete, on a whim, decides to take the box that this man is clutching so desperately and take peek inside, especially considering it has these rather convenient holes built into it to allow one to do just that. Well I don’t what exactly is inside the box but must be something of some insane value because those gerbil’s in Pete’s brain start working overtime to figure out a way to secure this treasure for himself. The shy girl across from him looks into the box and she is so amazed at what’s inside that all of the sudden she’s not so shy anymore. What they need to do is somehow convince Miles to jump on board with the plan but our conductor is a good man who does right, and though he is intrigued by what’s in the box he has a dead man on his hands and these things must be reported to the proper authorities, including this dead man’s valuable property.

But take it from me folks, being broke is a sumbitch and under further review, considering his age and some pressing family issues, Miles rethinks his previous stance. This was all our girl Chloe had to hear because she has taken things to the next level and I mean like for real. Also once Miles made his fateful decision to jump on board

with Chloe and Pete’s plan all hell has now proceeded to break loose in a big way. There is the guy who jumped on board the train later on to retrieve this package that he thought was being delivered to him who proved to be somewhat problematic, there’s a police officer in the mix who had to stop the train for reasons we won’t disclose here, there are other passengers on the train such as a pair of Japanese tourist and an very odd old woman who may or may not be aware of the valuables on board.

But the real problem on the Night Train is this small box containing the priceless cargo that seems to be pulling all of the strings. How an inanimate object has the power to control people’s action is a damn good question, but that’s exactly what is happening my friends. Hopefully somebody on this train will survive long enough to recognize this and turn this box of eeeeevil into splintered firewood.

Brian King is the visionary writer / director behind this odd little movie, one that is heavy on style with its surreal, almost computer generated look, and has an interesting enough narrative to support this style, in addition to a quality cast that largely delivers. But for some reason this is a movie that was difficult for me to immerse myself into completely. I’m not sure what the exact reasons for this were, perhaps there was a physical detachment from the actors and the environment that played with my small brain a little bit, and the pacing of the movie was a bit erratic with the flow being too deliberate at times, compounded with the rather strange and seemingly nonsensical decisions made by our characters in this movie, BUT… we always had the damn box to fall back on as a constant out for whatever anybody did.

Even though my interest in watching ‘Night Train’ wavered back and forth from grossly captivated to benign indifference, what was consistent were the solid performances turned in, especially by the now legendary Danny Glover who played a torn individual waffling between right and perceived riches just about point perfect, this is conjunction with a wildly over the top performance by the young Ms. Sobieski who went from Sunday School teacher to Aileen Wournos in a virtual blink of a cats eye. Steve Zahn’s character will probably get on your nerves as much as he got on Ms. Sobieski’s character's nerves, but his performance was still an effective one in what he was required to convey.

Ultimately I did enjoy ‘Night Train’ as it had a unique look, plenty of atmosphere, an above average story to tell and some solid performance which managed to override the occasional slow spots.

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