Friday 25 October 2013

Review: Last Passenger

Year: 2013
Director: Omid Nooshin
Screenplay: Andrew Love, Omid Nooshin, Kas Graham
Starring: Dougray Scott, Kara Tointon, David Schofield, Lindsay Duncan, Joshua Kaynama

Synopsis is here

My review for Last Passenger must be taken with a large pinch of salt. Understand that there is bias here, as the film was worked on by an ex work colleague and friend who is also an unfortunate Tottenham Hotspur fan. I will fully admit this because no matter how open minded and unbiased we claim to be, there are many aspects which, subconsciously or consciously, can dictate our view of a movie. You just have to look at the anonymous keyboard warriors who defend any negative reviews of Batman with death threats (without seeing the movie), or those who will always favour the original foreign movie over the remake etc. At least I’m honest enough to state my connection here, I’d rather you know. I'm only a movie blogger,  so it's not like you had any trust or faith my integrity anyway. Personally, I find it a miracle that a Spurs fan could work on a film. (I’m kidding Spurs fans. There’s a good chance he’ll read this).      

I did say to myself I wouldn't actually do a write up of Last Passenger due to my above statements. However, with this said, that would have been more likely if I didn't enjoy the film. As a piece of genre entertainment, Last Passenger comes through and does the job it’s meant to. Director Omid Nooshin directs a solid and engaging thriller which eschews some of the well worn plot aspects we’re used to. This is done by delivering economic scenes with effective use of reaction shots and chemistry to portray the fear and anxieties of our unfortunate travellers.

It helps that we’re given a solid screenplay. We enjoy these characters as they’re grounded, believable and well observed. The film travels at a brisk pace, yet we still manage to absorb a great amount of detail in each character. Uses of gesture and motif  are well utilised, while the main relationship between father and son works very well, managing to be affectionate without being saccharine.  Because of this the plot doesn't over elaborate the threat, but the stakes are heavily felt. 

The archetypes play well against each other. The weary but kind elderly lady, the uptight, first class seated twit, they club together and clash with a certain amount of weight to proceedings. I will say however that the females (particularly a game Kara Tointon) get a little lost in with all the testosterone being flung around, while the performance from Iddo Goldberg is amusing enough before becoming slightly grating. Still this is a strong cast of characters who solidity the idea that these are ordinary people in an extraordinary situation.

Last Passenger is something we don't get very often; a genre film that not only places its characters first. We care about them as they exasperate any idea they can to escape. While the motivation of the antagonist is the films weakest point, the film doesn't feel stupid and the building of the situation allows us to worry more about what’s in front of us as things become more desperate. Last Passenger clearly has the likes of Duel as an influence but holds a distinct British voice about it that feels authentic and different.
Now that you've read what I've written, you can still make up your own mind. You do not need to believe what I've put forth. There's been other films friends have worked on that I really disliked.  But as I said, I'm not too worried about how many feel about my integrity anyway.  The important thing if the film has any. It does.