By Alan Scherstuhl
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Few vistas are as exhilarating as the passenger train window, the world advancing and receding with breathtaking speed, the viewer stationary yet hurtling through the landscape.
Few films articulate this sensation as stunningly as the opening of Omid Nooshin's Last Passenger, which features wide POV shots of trains charging through exotic terrains. It's an indicator that, while Last Passenger is a campy B-movie, it possesses greater aesthetic aspirations, and the film's stylistic ambition is ultimately what makes it an entertaining ride.
Dougray Scott is Dr. Lewis Shaler, our hero aboard a train that mysteriously starts passing its scheduled stops. Lewis, along with a small cadre of passengers that feels positively Agatha Christie–esque in characterization, begins to suspect foul play, and eventually it's clear that a madman has hijacked the train, bent on fatally crashing it. Thriving in a Hitchcockian realm of anticipatory suspense in its first half — and also recalling Hitch in its impressive utilization of a single setting — Last Passenger thrills as it slowly parses out plot details, and is well-directed enough to retain interest even after the key information is revealed.
While frustratingly little of the hijacker's identity is explored, Last Passenger nevertheless feels mostly satisfying, in no small part due to the exquisite eyes of Nooshin and director of photography Angus Hudson, who constantly find new angles and frames in the cramped train quarters that serve as the exclusive setting. While certainly a formulaic genre film, it's nevertheless a formula executed with a great sensitivity to visual engagement.
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