Open main menu

Wikipedia β

Last Passenger is a 2013 British suspense thriller film directed by Omid Nooshin and starring Dougray Scott, Kara Tointon and Iddo Goldberg.

Last Passenger
Last Passenger French Poster.jpg
French Release Poster
Directed by Omid Nooshin
Produced by Ado Yoshizaki Cassuto
Zack Winfield
Written by Omid Nooshin
Andrew Love
Kas Graham
Starring Dougray Scott
Kara Tointon
Iddo Goldberg
Music by Liam Bates
Cinematography Angus Hudson
Edited by Joe Walker
Distributed by Kaleidoscope
Release date
  • 18 October 2013 (2013-10-18)[1]
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $2.5 million[2]

Contents

PlotEdit

Lewis Shaler (Dougray Scott) is a doctor and widower heading home with his young son Max (Joshua Kaynama) on a late-night train from London heading to Tunbridge Wells. Max accidentally causes fellow passenger Sarah Barwell (Kara Tointon) to spill coffee on her coat, prompting Shaler to apologize to Barwell. The interaction is the beginning of a romantic connection between the two.

Later, while the train is stationary, Shaler notices an unidentifiable man tampering with the train's brakes. As the train begins to move again he sees another man crawling across the tracks. On investigation, Shaler discovers the conductor has vanished.

Soon after, as the train approaches Shaler's home station, Barwell kisses Shaler and asks him to call her, however Shaler is distracted by the train bypassing his stop. Shaler tries to contact the driver on the intercom, but the driver only speaks to ask how many passengers are left on board. Shaler and fellow passenger Peter Carmichael pull numerous emergency brake cords to no effect. It dawns on Shaler and Carmichael that the driver intends to kill himself and his passengers and, along with fellow passenger Klimowski (who Carmichael originally suspected of involvement), attempt unsuccessfully to stop the train using the rear hand brake.

After the train continues past Tunbridge Wells, the train collides with a vehicle at a level crossing as the train is traveling too fast to activate the gates and lights. It kills all the occupants inside the vehicle instantly and fiercely jolts the passengers. The crash also causes one of the six remaining passengers to suffer a heart attack, and Shaler is unable to revive her. Klimowski and Shaler then work together in an attempt to break into the driver’s compartment using a fire extinguisher as battering ram, but their efforts are unsuccessful due to the reinforced door.

Klimowski attempts to decouple the train carriages by climbing outside, but this dangerous gambit is cut short by an approaching single-track tunnel. Shaler saves Klimowski by pulling him back on board a moment before the open door's impact with the tunnel. It transpires that the police have laid an ineffective blockade in the tunnel which only momentarily stops the train, and none of the passengers can open the doors due to the narrowness of the tunnel.

Suspecting that they are now close to a destructive collision with the Hastings station buffers, Shaler creates an improvised explosive using the last remaining fire extinguisher. The explosion causes enough damage for Shaler, with help of Carmichael, to de-couple the carriages, however Carmichael falls through the gap in the carriages and is killed instantly. The burning carriages separate as they speed through a suburban station where police officers watch helplessly as the train rushes through with the end car trailing not too far behind. Shaler is left on the front car whilst, Klimowski and Barwell attempt to stop their own carriage with the hand brake at the rear. With the train continuing to burn around him, Shaler takes a moment to compose himself, before running and leaping from the carriage as it explodes, possibly killing the driver and immediately engaging the brakes. The front carriage of the train finally screeches to a stop just in front of the camera and shows the headlight going off for good.

Shaler is discovered alive and conscious by Barwell, Max and Klimowski while a helicopter circles over the burning wreckage of the train in the distance. The identity of the driver and his/her motivations for committing a murder-suicide are left unknown.

CastEdit

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

In an interview about the film in the March 2013 issue of Vérité Magazine, Omid Nooshin said "There's a mythic resonance, being trapped in the Belly of the Whale, but there's also an existential dimension, hurtling towards the end of the line, towards certain death. I'm drawn to the work of anthropologist Ernest Becker who posited that mortality buffering actions constituted a kind of science of human behaviour."[3]

After receiving development backing from the UK Film Council, the script was voted onto the 2008 Brit List, an industry compiled ranking of the best unproduced screenplays in the UK. However, taking the film into production required a "heroic effort" according to executive producer Kwesi Dickson.[4] Consequently, Nooshin directed and co-produced along with producers Zack Winfield, Ado Yoshizaki and Dickson a £500 trailer to attract potential backers, filming on a heritage train on loan from the Bluebell Railway in Sussex. Todd Brown, founder of Twitch.com, wrote in March 2011 "Omid Nooshin's Last Passenger does not yet exist but it will soon. At least it will if the microbudget promo he shot for the film has anything to say about it,"[5] The trailer was instrumental in attracting the backing of Pathé, the British Film Institute and Pinewood Studios.[6][7] Last Passenger went on to strong pre-sales at the 2011 Cannes Film Market, the business counterpart of the Cannes Film Festival.[8]

Along with the £500 trailer, another key element which attracted distributors was the attachment of Dougray Scott to the lead role. Scott said of the script "It reminded me of a Hitchcock thriller where Hitchcock used to invest in the characters, so whatever happened in the story, you really cared about them because he’d spent the time for you, the audience, to get to know them."[9] Part of Scott's character research involved training in CPR at a hospital in Brighton.[10]

Pre-ProductionEdit

After realising that his preferred option of filming on 35mm wasn't affordable, Nooshin wanted to achieve the most cinematic look possible using digital cameras, and the Arri Alexa soon become his preferred choice.[11] At this time the 4x3 Alexa had not been released, meaning Last Passenger would have to be shot at x2 anamorphic lenses on a 16x9 sensor. The film therefore became one of the first and only productions to use 2:1 anamorphics on a 16:9 sensor for a film that would be released theatrically.

Director of Photography Angus Hudson and Nooshin opted for the Cooke Xtal Express range of anamorphic lenses, originally spherical lenses from the 1930s that had been re-housed and modified with anamorphic elements in the 1980s.

The decision to use anamorphic owed as much to storytelling as to aesthetics. For budget reasons, Last Passenger used a real train as its set, but one drawback of this approach was that the crew couldn't remove any walls and therefore the camera would have to remain close to the actors. Nooshin wanted as much peripheral vision as possible to define space without losing intimacy with the actors, and anamorphic allowed this within the limited space. A custom made overhead camera dolly was built using the carriage's luggage holders. The dolly allowed for smooth camera motion throughout the carriages.[12]

FilmingEdit

Principal photography began at Shepperton Studios' 'H' Stage, in September 2011, and lasted just 26 days, with further pick ups on the 007 stage at Pinewood studios.

The film was set on-board two Class 421 “4-CIG” EMU (carriages 76747 and 62385 from unit 1399). Despite being part of an electric train, artistic license was taken and the carriages were portrayed as diesel powered for the purpose of the storyline. The film is set in 2004 when 'slam door' trains were still in service.

Two 421 carriages, 120 feet long and weighing 90 tonnes, were delivered to Shepperton Studios and mounted on off-set hydraulic rams. Instead of using the more common technique of green screen to create the illusion of movement outside the train's windows, Nooshin designed a six screen system of rear projection, maintaining motion parallax in a near 360 degree view, something only now viable with DSLRs and digital projectors.[13]

Some sequences however required a more complex combination of techniques. The 'train surfing' scene towards the end of the film was shot in four different locations over six months - the main bulk on Shepperton's 'H' Stage, pick-ups on Pinewood's Bond Stage and on the Bluebell Railway who are owners of a 423 unit (3417 "Gordon Pettitt") which is similar design to the 421, and background plates shot from a freight train. The Last Passenger production team visited Kent & East Sussex Railway in November 2011 to shoot the carriage fire scenes at the end of the film.[14] The level crossing crash scene was filmed using CGI, but the location was at Milford in Surrey, a bit of a distance from the Hastings Line.

In an interview about the film, editor Joe Walker claimed that part of the fun of cutting Last Passenger was seamlessly merging these disparate elements. "That’s the magic of movie making and good continuity," he says "you can try and blend these things together."

EditingEdit

Unusually for a feature film, Last Passenger was cut on 2 edit systems, Final Cut Pro and Avid. Joe Walker wasn't available when principal photography was completed, and so Nooshin began editing a rough 'assembly edit' of the film on Final Cut Pro. When Walker became available and took over the editorial reins, this assembly edit had to be transferred to Avid using the laborious process of eye-matching.[15]

Visual EffectsEdit

Another unusual element of post-production was that all of the film's visual effects shots were delivered by a single VFX artist. During development, Nooshin and producer Zack Winfield traveled to Wellington to meet with Weta Workshop special effects head Richard Taylor, an avid train fanatic and supporter of the script. But with the film's budget constraints, shooting in New Zealand was deemed unfeasible. Nooshin and his producers ultimately put their faith in Tim Smit, a Dutch VFX artist who had worked on the original £500 trailer, to deliver all the digital effects shots.

MusicEdit

Liam Bates composed the film's original music after having impressed Nooshin with a temp score to the original pitch trailer, and his early involvement made possible an unconventional scoring process. Rather than wait for editing to be completed, Nooshin asked Bates to compose ideas and demos for scenes based on the script itself. These pieces then gradually evolved over the entirety of post-production, sometimes shifting in tone and location, so that when time came to record the final score with an orchestra its passages had organically found their form and placing.

Bates states on the CD cover notes "Interestingly, the music for a movie which is literally constantly on the move, required particular attention [to] the vehicle of rhythm. This element which was laid out with strongly defined pace and carefully marked tempo transitions, would become the back-bone for the steadily rising tension in the film, leaving pitch or melody to draw out the emotion surrounding the characters and their interplay."

Sound DesignEdit

Sound Design was completed by Glenn Freemantle's Pinewood based Sound 24 company. In an interview about the film, Sound Effects Editor Eilam Hoffman explained how the team went about creating a language for the train so that it would become as much a character in the film as any of the passengers. A major creative choice was to use animal sounds such as lions, tigers, and cobras, morphed with the train sounds to give the locomotive an animalistic quality.[16]

He goes on to say "It’s a lot of fun to create big explosions and loud things. It’s really nice to build dynamic sounds, starting off very quiet and then hitting you with an impact."[17]

MarketingEdit

A found footage style teaser for the film was released in September 2013. Amateur video shows a group of teen revellers in a car driving over an open level crossing and colliding with a speeding train. The action mirrors a key moment in the film told from the point of view of the train passengers. Contactmusic.com wrote "The teaser is everything a good thriller trailer should be: intriguing, exciting...and darn scary."[18]

ReceptionEdit

Last Passenger opened to a generally positive reception and currently scores 84% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 19 reviews.[19] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, the film has a score of 66 based on 11 reviews, considered to be "generally favorable reviews".[20]

Gary Goldstein wrote in the LA Times that taken on its own lower budget terms Last Passenger is an "engrossing, pulse-quickening journey that deserves a wider local release than it's receiving." and added that it is "Impressively directed by Omid Nooshin". Total Film gave the film 3/5 stars, describing it as having "consistently tense, explosive action"[21] The Hollywood Reporter wrote that "Last Passenger is a superbly executed B-movie that puts most bigger-budgeted Hollywood efforts to shame." Indiewire also wrote positively about the film saying "'Last Passenger' is a good antithesis to the overloaded and cluttered action Hollywood seems to love nowadays. If you're not feeling especially picky on plot or character, you won't go wrong with this compelling and stylish train thriller."

Writing in Sight & Sound, Kim Newman described the film as having a "pleasantly old fashioned, Brit-film feel". Mike McCahill reviewed for The Guardian, giving 3/5 stars and writing "Nooshin holds on to a strain of logic that doesn't often survive at this level of filmmaking."[22] HeyUGuys.com also gave the film 3/5 writing that the film avoids "typical cinematic conventionalities" and "begs the question; what would you do?"

Reviewers were divided however over other aspects. Charlotte O'Sullivan wrote in the Evening Standard that the film "doesn’t have the bottle to swerve genre clichés", although Short List magazine held the opposite view: "Using just a few train carriages and a handful of actors, an impressive level of suspense and claustrophobia is created, which is happily cliché-free."[23]

Time Out was critical of the film's ending, writing "the 'who the hell’s driving this train?’ mystery element doesn’t go anywhere." [24] Total Film however praised this element, writing that the film showed an "admirable reluctance to humanise the terrorist" adding "he’s nothing more than a shadowy, random nutter, and all the scarier for it". Similarly Brian Orndorf wrote "Instead of submitting entirely to formula, the movie attempts something seldom seen on the screen, trying to make the idea of a monster more frightening than the constant demands of one."[25]

AwardsEdit

Year Award Category/Recipient Result Reference
2013 British Independent Film Awards The Douglas Hickox Award (Debut Director)
(Omid Nooshin)
Nominated

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Pinewood Productions' 'Last Passenger' release date confirmed". Pinewood Group. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "Hot-selling thriller Last Passenger starts UK shoot today at Shepperton". Screen International. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  3. ^ "End Of The Line". Vérité Magazine. 
  4. ^ "Hot-selling thriller Last Passenger starts UK shoot today at Shepperton". Screen International. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "$800 Buys You An Exploding Train. Watch The Promo For UK Thriller THE LAST PASSENGER". Twitch Film. Retrieved 8 March 2011. 
  6. ^ "Suspense, trains, brand new special effects: the return of the British action thriller". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  7. ^ "$800 Buys You An Exploding Train. Watch The Promo For UK Thriller THE LAST PASSENGER". Twitch Film. Retrieved 8 March 2011. 
  8. ^ "Pathe International has booming Cannes including Iron Lady sell-out". Screen International. Retrieved 23 May 2011. 
  9. ^ "New UK rom-com and thriller out now". euronews. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  10. ^ "Dougray Scott reveals how missing out on X-Men role gave Aussie hunk Hugh Jackman his big break as Wolverine". Daily Record. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 
  11. ^ http://www.arri.com/news/last-passenger-embarks-with-alexa/
  12. ^ "'Last Passenger' Making-Of Videos Provide a Crash Course in Independent Filmmaking". nofilmschool. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  13. ^ "Suspense, trains, brand new special effects: the return of the British action thriller". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  14. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Last Passenger Film Focus". 
  15. ^ http://www.avidblogs.com/last-passenger-making-of-british-indie/
  16. ^ "Rhythm, Pre-vis, and the Magic of Montage: The Making of British Indie Thriller 'Last Passenger'". Avidblogs.com. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  17. ^ "Rhythm, Pre-vis, and the Magic of Montage: The Making of British Indie Thriller 'Last Passenger'". Avidblogs.com. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  18. ^ "'Last Passenger' Trailer Released: Watch The Terrifyingly Startling Teaser Clip [Trailer]". contactmusic.com. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  19. ^ "Last Passenger". Rotten Tomatoes. 28 September 2014. 
  20. ^ "Last Passenger". Metacritic. 
  21. ^ "Danger on a train". TotalFilm. 7 October 2013. 
  22. ^ "Last Passenger - Review". The Guardian. 17 October 2013. 
  23. ^ "In Cinemas This Week". Short List. 15 October 2013. 
  24. ^ Tom Huddleston (15 October 2013). "Last Passenger (15)". Time Out. 
  25. ^ "Last Passenger (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. 7 October 2013. 

External linksEdit