Films Set On Trains (or Trains play big part of plot)

Tangerine and Lemon from Bullet Train

All Aboard! To celebrate the release of Bullet Train now out in cinemas everywhere. We have a list of films based on trains or trains play an important part of the films. This list isn’t complete or the films in specific order. There is an notables list at the end , these films fit the bill for main part of the list or we haven’t seen enough to consider as the main list.

Source Code (2011)

Zowie Bowie’s aka Duncan Jones mainstream film. Son of David made his breakout film debut a couple of years before this one with arthouse space drama Moon . This time travelling thriller starred Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Captain Colter Stevens travelling on a train to Chicago, only to be blown up. He finds himself back onboard reliving the last moments and searching for the bomber. If anything this is Groundhog Day on a train only to learn he’s not in his own body now. Critically it did okay, if you are looking for a couple of hours of escapism that has plenty of twists and turns leaving you guesing until the end, this one does the trick.

Before Sunrise (1995)

Richard Linklater’s Before films have spanned nearly 2 decades, all starting onboard a train. Starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke our starcrossed lovers who strike an conservation onboard a train to Budapest. Jess (Hawke) convinces Celine to get off the train at Vienna and spend his last day with him in the city before he flies home. You wonder what if she stayed onboard? Would the film be much loved including the other enchanting sequels? This wasn’t fully shot onboard a train, the pivotal moment where.

Murder On The Orient Express (1974)

We couldn’t create this list and not ignore the film based on Agatha Christie’s classic 1934 novel. Sidney Lumet’s 1974 film based on a train, the luxurious Orient Express, not Kenneth Branagh’s 2017 version. Albert Finney is the legendary Belgium sleuth Hercule Poirot who is just iconic as Sherlock Holmes. Whodunnit? As one of the passengers is murdered the web of deceit, culprits and plenty of style and star studded cast make this one worthwhile watch.

The General (1925)

This may have a big slice of satire towards the U.S Civil war, the definitive silent film is a must watch. Trains have been on our screens since Lumière brothers created those first movements onscreen. Starring Buster Keaton  as our gloomy train engineer who goes all out to save two objects of his affection – his engine and his sweetheart (Marion Mack) – when both are snatched. Considered one of the top greatest films ever made, with unbelievable stunts for it’s time. Without Keaton, we wouldn’t have had Jackie Chan, Tom Cruise involved in their own stunts.

Snowpiercer (2013)

Before he was an Oscar winner with Parasite, Bong Joon Ho was making Dystopian sci-fi action thrillers in the shape of Snowpiercer. incorporating commentary on real-world issues (Global warming), all set onboard a train. This was released in 2013 and made it’s European premiere at Edinburgh Film Festival only to be involved in it’s own controversial issues all to do with a certain Harvey Weinstein. Nothing to do with the assault charges just to do with the version The Weinstein company was to release. Everything is set onboard a constantly moving train hundreds of miles long, the survivors of a global catastrophe living onboard. A class system in place with further up you go on the train the better life you will have unless you come from Tunbridge Wells) Living under a fascistic authortarian which sees those living in poverty revolt learning how the others live. International cast lead by Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton , John Hurt to name a few Snowpiercer finally got released 2020 in the UK, including a Netflix series which also starred Jennifer Connolly and Sean Bean.

Train To Busan (2016)

When it comes to genre cinema the Koreans have become experts in. 2016 they unearthed the Apocalypse in Yeon Sang-ho’s Train To Busan. The film became one of the countries biggest highest grossing box office films to date and no surprise there is an U.S remake on the cards. The film basic synopsis we follow a wealthy businessman and his daughter  on a train from Seoul to Busan, as they travel they are first unaware that there’s a Zombie outbreak happening as they speed through the country, before they know it that outbreak gets onboard. Only way to describe this film is absolutely bonkers. The Zombie sub-genre has been over diluted for a while and this film gave it fresh input with an exhilarating, tension filled entertaining ride. It used every maneuver known to mankind to escape the hordes, and like a lot of Korean films can even thrown in class issues that are still rampant in Korea today.

Polar Express (2004)

Robert Zemeckis animated feature now considered a staple of Christmas television viewing. Tom Hanks voices our conductor, about a young boy who questions father christmas and the christmas spirit. Who on Christmas eve finds himself transported onto a magical train North Pole bound to meet Father Christmas.

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Like Agatha Christie we can’t have a Train films without Alfred Hitchcock. There is a few and we go for this 1938 thriller is his definitive film. Full of dry wit and humour as a elderly woman goes missing onboard the the Trans-European rail journey (Margaret Lockwood). Her companion is on the case and like virtually every similar fun full of colourful characters who can easily be the culprit or the innocent party. This may not have as many of the trademark tropes Hitchcock came famous for, it did have little moments that now part and parcel of modern day film making .

Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three (1974)

Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, and Martain Balsam all star in this classic heist thriller which involved New York Underground train network. There was a 2009 remake starring Denzil Washington and John Travolta which was fine, but Joseph Sargent’s version is the superior one. The film captures the spirit of 1970’s New York which was a gritty, dangerous run down place. A big influence on Reservoir Dogs as a group of criminals hijack underground train


Von Ryan’s Express (1965)

The Railway Children (1970)

The Darjeeling Limited (007)

3:10 to yuma (1957 / 2007)

Unstoppable (2010)

Silver Streak (1976)

Runaway Train (1985)

The Train (1964)

Strangers On The Train (1951)

Transsiberian (2008)

The Girl On The Train (2016)

Bullet Train is in UK and Irish Cinemas now | read our review

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