What the hell is going on with Tony Scott, Denzel Washington, and trains? Last year, the duo made The Taking of Pelham 123, a remake of the 1974 film about a train hijacking. This year, they’re back on track with Unstoppable, which tells the supposedly true story of a runaway train loaded with toxic waste. Based on the preview, the film looks about as exciting as riding a commuter train – look at these train videos just to see how boring it is. But looks can be deceiving. After all, Hollywood has made its fair share of classic films that center around riding the rails. In honor of this latest installment, here are nine pain-in-the-ass movie trains you wouldn’t want to ride.
The Great Train Robbery (1903)
The Great Train Robbery is considered one of the greatest films of the silent era. Produced by Thomas Edison, the film is widely credited with combining a number of innovative techniques in order to advance its narrative.
Audiences at the time had never seen anything like it, and many moviegoers ran away in panic when a train came barreling toward the screen. But regardless of the film’s historical significance, riding this train would be a pain in the ass, unless you consider being robbed and left for dead on the side of the tracks to be an adventure.
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
To be honest, Bridge on the River Kwai is not exactly a train film. In fact, the there is only one scene involving a train. However, it is one of the most memorable scenes in cinema history.
After months of slaving away to complete a railway bridge for the Imperial Japaneses Army, a group of British POWs is taking pride in a job well done. In honor of the occasion, the Japanese are planning to christen the new bridge with an inaugural ride over by visiting dignitaries. However, a crack team of British commandos finds out about the event. Without giving away exactly what transpires, you can probably imagine that this is one train you wouldn’t want to take.
Von Ryan’s Express (1965)
Of all the ways to escape from a P.O.W. camp, hijacking a train has to be on the bottom of the list. After all, it’s not like your pursuers can’t figure out where you are headed. Once you start your journey, there aren’t a lot of options. And if something happens to the tracks ahead of you, you’re in for a very short trip. These are just a few of the obstacles faced by the men in Von Ryan’s Express, starting Frank Sinatra. And it’s not like “Old Blue Eyes” is going to belt out a tune in the dining car, which means there’s really no upside to riding this train.
The French Connection (1971)
At least when a normal train derails, it’s already on the ground. Sure, the thing might flip over a few dozen times, smashing you against the sides, but still, it’s better than a plane crash. However, if you’re on an elevated train, like the one in The French Connection, you face the worst of both worlds. If the train derails, you also have to worry about the impact from falling off the structure. Sure, riding this train might give you the chance to see Gene Hackman, but you’re only going to see him from the window since he’s following with his car. All in all, it’s not worth the ride.
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
The downside to riding this train should be pretty clear. On the one hand, you might get murdered. On the other, you might be suspected of murder. Unless you have a death wish or like getting the third degree, tell Agatha Christie to piss off.
Silver Streak (1976)
The whole point of riding a train is to get to your destination. That’s what makes the train from Silver Streak so frustrating. Due to a series of unfortunate (and stupid) events, the train does not stop when it reaches the station, but rather plows directly into it. It’s not exactly the safest way to travel, however, you might catch a glimpse of Gene Wilder in blackface, which may be worth the risk.
Mission Impossible (1996)
Riding in the Chunnel, the train tunnel that goes under the English Channel, is somewhat frightening, despite the fact that it’s extremely safe and well maintained. But thinking about it rationally should get you over any psychological hangups you might have about traveling under the ocean in a train. However, riding on the outside of the train while a helicopter chases you is a whole different story. It’s also an idiotic story, but I digress.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)
Where do I begin with the Hogwarts Express. First off, it doesn’t even have a proper station platform. 9¾ my ass! Second, the train runs on magic, which leaves a hell of a carbon footprint, even compared to coal. Throw in the ever-present danger posed by flying-car collisions, and all you have is an inconvenient, dirty death trap, whimsical though it may be.