There’s something very appealing about setting a film in one location. Many movies are set on a train, which is an effective location for many reasons. For example, it’s a romantic mode of transportation, and the claustrophobic confines of a train car can help drive the movie’s action. Whatever the case, a surprising number of great movies are set on a train.
There are memorable train scenes in Trading Places, Men in Black, and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, but those aren’t necessarily train movies. In Hollywood’s best train movies, the locomotive is as important to the plot as a twist, character, or complication.
10 2022’s Bullet Train Follows Brad Pitt’s Hitman
In Bullet Train, Brad Pitt plays a laid-back former hitman who gets mixed up in a revenge plot on a train to Kyoto, Japan. For a movie that seems to be another mindless action film, Bullet Train has a very clever and well-crafted story that ties everything together surprisingly in the end.
Bullet Train has great action, thrilling stunts, and some of the most creative violence ever seen. All the characters are quirky, interesting, and well-acted, plus there are a few amazing cameos. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Bullet Train is Pitt’s character, who wants nothing to do with the chaos and just wants to get off the train.
9 Murder On The Orient Express Is An All-Star Mystery
No disrespect to the fun 2017 remake, but the original Murder on the Orient Express is the superior whodunit. As the film’s title suggests, the entire movie takes place on the Orient Express. When it comes to all-star casts, it’s hard to beat Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, and Vanessa Redgrave.
Murder on the Orient Express was the only adaptation Agatha Christie actually liked. It told the story of her signature detective, Hercule Poirot, unraveling the mystery of an American tycoon’s death. On top of bringing humor to the mystery genre, it set the standard for ensemble mysteries like Murder by Death, Clue, and Knives Out.
8 Throw Momma From The Train Is A Funny Version Of Strangers On A Train
Strangers on a Train inspired Throw Momma from the Train and is even central to the plot. Unlike the Hitchcock classic, however, the Danny DeVito/Billy Crystal film spends considerable time on a train. The hilariously dramatic conclusion plays out on a caboose.
In a fresh twist on the “swapping murders” theme, Owen pretends to kill Larry’s credit-stealing ex-wife, and in exchange, Larry is supposed to murder Owen’s nasty overbearing mom, who’s played brilliantly by Anne Ramsey. Far from the dark tone the premise would suggest, Throw Momma from the Train is one of the funniest films.
7 The Warriors Come Out To Play On Train
When thinking of The Warriors, the words “train movie” don’t immediately come to mind, but at least half of the film takes place on the NYC transit system. In fact, the subway trains are so integral to the story that without them, The Warriors wouldn’t work.
The Coney Island crew took the train to a big meeting in the Bronx where they were falsely accused of killing the boss of the biggest gang in the city. With every gang in New York looking to kill them, The Warriors had to hop trains, battle thugs, and dodge the cops all the way home. The Warriors would have been silly if they took cabs or rode the bus.
6 Runaway Train Follows Two Ex Convicts In An Action-Packed Movie
Runaway Train follows two escaped convicts who hitch a lift on a runaway train. Jon Voight and Eric Roberts starred in their Oscar-nominated roles as Oscar Manheim and Buck McGeehy, respectively. Rebecca De Mornay also starred as Sara, a train driver who attempts to help the two convicts avoid death.
Runaway Train is based on a screenplay written by legendary director Akira Kurosawa, who intended to direct the movie but never got the chance. Runaway Train was also Danny Trejo’s first film appearance. With terrifying action and an unrelenting level of tension, the movie almost plays like a horror.
5 Snowpiercer Is A Tense Tale Of Class Disparity
After a scientific blunder plunges planet Earth into a new ice age, the last of the population survives aboard a train that endlessly circles the Earth. In Snowpiercer, the poor live in squalor at the back of the train while the rich bask in luxury in the front, showing that the inequality of modern society is extended into the post-apocalyptic world.
When the lower-class passengers start a revolt and fight their way forward, they don’t just take a journey on a train, but they also make a trip up the social ladder. From the brilliant mind of director Bong Joon-ho, the high-concept movie is entertaining and action-packed, as well as a thought-proving statement on class struggle.
4 The General Is Still A Thrill
The classic silent movie The General is considered to be one of the greatest American films ever made, which is largely thanks to Buster Keaton’s physical comedy. Keaton plays a conductor who single-handedly recaptures his train, which was stolen by spies during the American Civil War.
The General was initially a flop, but upon reevaluation, Keaton’s death-defying stunts have been recognized as some of the actor’s finest work. The camera work and staging were also groundbreaking for the time. Part action, part comedy, and part romance, this nearly 100-year-old film still has the power to entertain and thrill audiences.
3 Silver Streak’s Comedy Is A Lot Of Fun
The comedy thriller Silver Streak marked Gene Wilder and Richard Prior’s first team-up, acting as a preview for their brilliant collaborations to come. The movie plays out with equal parts crime caper, murder mystery, road movie, buddy comedy, and romance, and is set on a train from Los Angeles to Chicago.
The story involves a meek everyman who is framed for a murder and the incredible lengths he goes to in order to clear his name. Ned Beaty and Fred Willard provide the laughs while Richard Keil adds some scares. However, the hilarious scenes between Wilder and Pryor make Silver Streak a great ride.
2 The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three Is Dangerously Real
Quentin Tarantino was inspired to give his Reservoir Dogs thieves color-coded names because of the 1974 crime drama The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, Mr. Grey, and Mr. Brown hijack an NYC subway train and hold the passengers hostage for a $1 million ransom. In the 2009 remake, the ransom was $10 million.
The Taking of Pelham was excellently cast with top character actors Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, and Hector Elizondo, as well as a memorable performance from Walter Matthau as the Transit Police lieutenant who tried to negotiate a peaceful end. With the gritty realism of a documentary, the film mimicked what a dangerous place the NYC subway system had become.
1 Train To Busan Brings Zombie Movies Back From The Dead
Just when the zombie trend seemed overdone, along came Train to Busan to breathe new life into the genre. The story followed the passengers on a Korean train who were dealing with a zombie outbreak. However, the real contribution of the film is the next-gen flesh-eaters, who are faster, deadlier, and more unrelenting than ever.
Given that gun ownership is heavily policed in Korea, the survivors relied on smarts and luck to evade the screaming zombie horde. With shockingly inventive gore, a terrifying new breed of zombies, and non-stop peril, Train to Busan is the most intense movie train ride ever.
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