Saturday, January 21, 2023

Night Train: Movie Review

Flips the script with good characters and no action.
An action movie with very little action. I’m usually not a fan of action movies, but these characters intrigued me. Led by two women, the excess testosterone was removed from the genre leaving a movie that is slowly paced, a little lacklustre at times (not helped by the desert landscape), but not without its humanity. We should probably start with that poster because it’s advertising a completely different movie.   2023

Directed by: Shane Stanley

Screenplay by: CJ Walley

Starring: Danielle C. Ryan, Diora Baird,
and Paul Haapaniemi

There are no helicopter crashes or big explosions. There are two car chases and a couple gun stand-offs, but the expected action is replaced by humanized characters and some good guy vs bad guy reversals not often associated with the genre but certainly appreciated in today’s society.

The good guys are drug dealers – well, not exactly. Our main protagonist is Holly McCord (Danielle C. Ryan) a single mother, unable to make ends meet as a Hollywood teamster so she moonlights as a street racer and running a black market for medical supplies, which she needs for her son. Her shipment comes via a drug mule Renzo Romeo (Paul Haapaniemi) who picks up cocaine from Mexico gangsters as well as the cheaper pharmaceutical drugs outlawed in the US because Big Pharma needs their big profits. Those are the good guys. Holly makes sense since a single mother fighting for their son’s meds is a sympathetic character, but Haapaniemi turns his drug dealer into romantic lead and does an excellent job flipping the script for this type of movie.

The bad guys are the top of the food chain drug dealers (but those characters remain on the outside and we never really meet them) and the FBI agents. There are two main FBI agents. One is a tired, cynical female agent Jaylynne Jackson (Diora Baird) who’s sick and tired of misogynistic assumptions from her male colleagues, who’s running around the desert chasing old leads and not getting any closer to cracking down on the drugs pouring over the border. Meanwhile her boss (-ish) Agent Connolly is a cranky meathead who screams about protocol but clearly doesn’t want Jackson getting her guys. His exact motives are unclear but it’s something like the more drugs and drug dealers in the US then he gets to keep his job.

I tried watching a pro-cop show serial on broadcast TV the other day, and I couldn’t do it. With the sheer prevalence of racist and degenerate cops getting away with murder on a daily basis, it’s basically impossible to watch shows where law enforcement are the good guys. That’s why I really appreciated this film’s attempt to flip that script. The head FBI agent is a corrupt incompetent asshole. The drug dealer is the guy actually fighting to save an innocent kid’s life by illegally importing them from Mexico.

From an action viewpoint, there’s very little of it. And not a whole lot actually happening within the film. Holly’s role within the drug trade increases – to fit her entertaining skill set as a street racer, and the female FBI agent has a new lead to track down. It is very slowly paced and the other supporting characters are poorly acted with confused subplots.

Night Train is not exactly the movie you would be expecting and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Available to stream on Hoopla. Available to rent on iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Amazon, etc.)

Something Similar But Different:

  A Small Fortune (2022) - A small Canadian thriller with a bag of money washing up on shore, criminals on its tail and turning an every-man into a new criminal.

  The Score (2021) - A crime drama musical with two criminals singing their way through a heist and into a romance.

  Sugar (2022) - Two materialistic social media influencers become drug smuggling mules.

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