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By midlandsmovies, Mar 6 2019 10:25AM

Carriages (2018)

Directed by Adam Palmer

Carriages is a new 10-minute drama short from regional writer and director Adam Palmer covering awkward encounters on the train tracks around the region.

Jonathon David Dudley stars as the unlucky in love lead who sees a stranger on a platform (Alishia Southall) but through embarrassment and shyness doesn’t say anything despite the obvious attraction.

On his daily commute he seems to be struck by this girl of his dreams but his quiet demeanour and timid countenance is not making it easy for him to strike up a conversation.

Joining Jonathan is Midlands Movies Award nominee Michael Cotton who comedically plays an office colleague joking that she has probably got an “awful personality” which is less than helpful to the lovestruck young man. A brilliant support turn, Cotton delivers as a suitably dismissive friend as he tries to take his mate’s mind off “train girl”

Close ups of the worrisome face of our lead bring the audience into his humble world but from a stranger on a train (Lawrence Walker) to a ringing phone, he is constantly derailed from starting an introductory chat.

Excellently shot on real locomotives and platforms, the well-thought out locations add classy production value to the film. And an 8-mm film-style cutaway gag on what our lead could have done differently was both a verbal and visual delight as he is accosted by the love-rival stranger for being in his seat.

As we are shunted from one scene to the next, the rickety jolts of the carriages themselves seem to represent the unstable state of each encounter. The editing back and forth between the unspoken train sequences to the office-based re-caps are well constructed and help lead the audience down the right tracks.

As we come to the film’s conclusion, we get a steadier situation on the platform which calms our lead before he finally gains the confidence to stand up for what he wants.

With its heart in the right place, Carriages takes a wry, and slightly old-fashioned, look at embarrassment on the ‘express’ but its innocence is one of its many plus points. A great cast steams ahead with dedicated but delicate performances to create a wonderful soft tone which will help audiences get on board with this terrific tale on a train.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, May 5 2018 02:05PM

The Commuter (2018) Dir. Jaume Collet-Serra

Liam Neeson never seemed like a likely action hero when his imposing frame appeared in the rather fantastic but ultimately silly revenge flick Taken. Instead of an excellent one-off, the actor has attempted to recapture that glory on multiple occasions (including 2 Taken sequels) and each one worse than the last. And most with Commuter director Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown, Non-Stop, Run All Night).

Here, he plays an ex-cop (yes, really) who has now lost his job at a high flying banking corporation which leaves him unemployed and with large debts. Not wanting to explain the circumstances to his family, he meets Vera Farmiga on his regular train ride who tasks him with finding a person in the carriages on the promise of a large amount of cash.

Along with Farmiga, Patrick Wilson appears as an old cop pal and Sam Neill is a high ranking police captain but don’t let these quality actors lull you into a false sense of security. They all barely appear in the film and are given nothing to work with when they do show up.

With both the premise (and Farmiga) borrowed from Source Code (where she also gave a mission to a man to find someone on a train), the film has a solid 25 minutes of fun action in the middle when it picks up pace. However, it is bookended by large swatches of utter drivel with poor dialogue and drama. It also contains some truly horrific CGI, especially the shots from outside the train, whilst the virtual dolly shots are abysmal.

It’s of course absolute shlock but that middle segment is entertaining to a point. It also has a very similar premise to Neeson's other transit flick Non-Stop with the plane replaced by a locomotive here. Although he’s on the phone a lot on this one, at least he’s not texting! Is that better? Yes, but it’s hardly an endorsement.

A selection of random, and dull as dishwater, fisticuff and train jumping plot points culminate in a ludicrous Speed-like finale with a runaway train. And although the action has lost all believability at this point, with the cartoon-level computer generated loco steaming ahead, it was topped by an “I’m Spartacus” sequence that had me howling with laughter.

But alas, that one giant guffaw aside, any positives are small and this high concept but low budget actioner is not one you want to be travelling on for long.


Midlands Movies Mike

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