From writer/director Omid Nooshin comes Last Passenger, the story of a handful of strangers forced to work together when their train is hijacked and their lives are at stake. The set-up certainly lends itself to action thriller, where ordinary people transcend their average limitations and find themselves suddenly capable with a firearm. But Last Passenger resists such temptations. It forgoes explosions or terrorist tropes – in fact the hijacker himself is all but inconsequential.
Last Passenger is an old-fashioned, character-driven thriller drama; it hinges on the actors’ ability to make their characters instantly engaging, expressing the terror instead of it being explicitly shown. Such an undertaking requires solid casting, and leading man Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible II, My Week With Marilyn) is well-suited. A charming Scotsman, Scott is easily watchable as Lewis, a widowed husband and single father trying to do right by his son, Max. The young and talented Joshua Kaynama plays the latter, whose vulnerability and youthful sensitivity comes amply across.
Kara Tointon (The Sweeney, EastEnders) gives a capable performance as Sarah, an attractive stranger with an interest in Lewis. The film relies on the chemistry between not only Scott and Tointon, but also Tointon and Kaynama, and fortunately both relationships are instantly credible. The tentative flirting between Lewis and Sarah when they first meet is cute, and Sarah’s development as a protective mother figure for Max as things get increasingly hairy endears the character further.
The supporting cast of Iddo Goldberg, David Schofield and Lindsay Duncan all give admirable performances as fellow passengers. Playing obnoxious hard-case, stuck-up train enthusiast, and sage elder, respectively, director Nooshin gives each actor a chance to take the spotlight (after Duncan’s monologue you’ll think about the colour imperial purple in a completely new way).
With Last Passenger, Nooshin has jammed his ambitions inside the confined space of the train and packed the carriages with drama and suspense. For those used to the bells and whistles that usually come with a film about a speedy locomotive, you won’t have your hair blown back. But if you’re after something a little more grounded, Last Passenger will be a pleasant surprise.
Last Passenger is released in selected cinemas on 18th October 2013.