Atomic Train (TV Mini-Series 1999– ) Poster

(1999– )

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Complete Stupidity
shostetler24 January 2001
Working for a railroad in train operations as an engineer, I know how trains work. Several things are wrong with this movie and personally it surpasses what I know as being just plain stupid to reach a new plateau of stupidity and retardation of normal people which I've never known before. For example:

a - when a brake pipe hose between two cars breaks its connection, the rapid drop in break pipe pressure will cause a train to immediately go into emergency and stop. (in the movie they were trying to put it back together to try to stop the train)

b - when a train has electrical problems, such as even a weak battery, safety systems will cause an emergency application of the brakes. This did not happen in the movie.

c - I have never in all my railroading days seen a boxcar with railings on the side and extruding steel for a footwalk to gain access to the door.

d - when the train was creeping at walking speed at the top of the mountain, the people could have EASILY walked to the cars and tied hand brakes stopping the train. Even if all the hand brakes failed (which is an impossibility due to required initial terminal testing on the trains brakes before departure from a yard) a large limb from a nearby tree could have been used to stop the train. *I've done it while working in the yards using a 2x4*

e - when the engine was attached to the rear end and trying to pull the train to a stop, use of dynamic brakes couldn't create so much "strain" as to break a knuckle (the coupling mechanism in a coupler) as depicted in the movie. The knuckle part of a coupler is solid steel, and given the circumstances would be EXTREMELY difficult to break.

f - the crew on the caboose had control of the emergency brake valve on the caboose, and could have placed the train into emergency from the rear.
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7/10
so bad it was kind of good
RichN364 April 2006
Actually this movie isn't so bad for a Made for TV Action Movie. Of course everything was over the top and the acting was sub par. It was the type of movie that if it can go wrong it will. You keep asking yourself can anything go right for these People????? and then nothing goes right for them. It is just one of those movies you have to watch and let the mind wander and enjoy this movie is best watched if you have a big storm outside and you can't go anywhere so might as well sit back and have fun.

Of course there are plot holes you can drive a Steam Train Through. But what Made for TV movie doesn't. Some Charters are droped before the first half of the movie is over and you never see them again and you go through the rest of the movie wondering if they will ever show up again.

My biggest gripe of the movie is some of the actions of the Charters get them into the Problems they have. If only they follow the Rules or directions this movie wouldn't have had the same Ending it did. Just following the Rules would of caused the Train to have a happy ending.

But don't worry it is a Great time killer full of hammy acting and Cheap FX.
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An hour and a half movie jam-packed into 4 hours!
Videoman-45 August 1999
I thought the first half of the movie was good enough for a TV movie once you get past the impossible premise. I look at the second half of the movie as two hours of my life I will never get back! The movie is worth renting for the family for a few dollars just so you don't have to sit through all the commercials (it comes to video on Sept. 21). Watch the first half, then turn it off and you'll be O.K., but if you're looking for a high-quality movie, though, you'll need to keep looking.
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"Improbable" isn't a strong enough word
Markus5825 May 1999
For a reality check, please digest these facts and compare them to the fiction of this mini-series:

**Nuclear weapons are no longer transported on trains in the U.S.

**Nuclear weapons are never armed when transported.

**Nuclear waste and nuclear weapons are NEVER transported together.

**Nuclear waste is transported in containers designed to withstand extraordinary external challenges (i.e. fire of 2000 F, impact of a locomotive at 80 mph, water immersion, sabotage, etc.).

**In the past 30 years, nearly 3,000 shipments of used nuclear fuel has been transported safely via highways and railways in the U.S., as have more than 45 million packages of radioactive materials.

**Eight containers have been involved in transit accidents. All remained intact with no release of radioactive material.

**The first priority of federal, state and local agencies who regulate shipments of radioactive materials is the safety and welfare of the public.
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6/10
Good, but could be better.
Jnarup2429 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is my favorite Drama movie, but I just don't feel it leads up to it's name. I mean, a train is only involved in the first half of the movie, the rest is pure drama. In that case, I feel this movie could have been named "Escape the Atomic City" or something. I'm a rail-fan myself, and this movie, railroad wise, disappointed me that in this 3-hour movie/TV miniseries, only about 45 minutes involved a runaway train before it derails. The acting of this movie is exceptional, but not top of the line. Rob Lowe was great, but other characters just made this look like a soap drama. Overall, I like the movie as my favorite disaster drama movie, but my suggestion for you is: if you like disaster drama, you'll like this, if you're a straight up action fan, you probably won't like this movie, due to the lack of action in which the trailer promised us.
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Basic TV miniseries
millennia-29 April 2000
Though it may not be technically well done or sufficiently researched, Atomic Train is immensely entertaining, with excellent locations and good pacing. The special effects were actually very good, as was the editing/ sound editing.

Nothing much can be said about the mediocre acting (Rob Lowe wasn't bad, it was just the awful support), and the whole thing plays out like an extended 'Black Dog' with a different plot line as far as writing and production values go.

Still, if you feel like mindless entertainment for a Sunday afternoon, Atomic Train might do the trick.
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2/10
Good premise with weak delivery
snewman-224 October 2004
This movie was WAY longer than it should have been. The idea for the story was good, there are just too many holes in it to make the movie good. They waste time showing you secondary characters (who had no relevance to the story) dying. Let me save you some time, the bomb goes off and everyone runs for it, end of story.

Someone else commented that "they paid good attention to details". What details?? The fact that fire does not detonate a nuclear bomb? Or (as anyone who's seen a weather report would know) that the winds in the U.S. blow from West to East, and if you're trying to get away from Nuclear fallout, you should head West (upwind) and NOT East.

Then there are ridiculous parts of the story, such as the guy who "can disarm the bomb with his eyes closed" not mentioning that fact until after he's sent someone else into the train car on fire to look at the bomb. He sent the first guy in because he's the only one who has seen the bomb and knows what it looks like, yet when he goes in to disarm the bomb, he walks straight to the crate the bomb is in and opens it.

This doesn't even make it to a 'B' movie, at best, it's a 'D' movie.
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3/10
When Rob Lowe is providing the best acting......
mbg41129 July 2007
The whole movie is a nuclear bomb itself. It's three hours long! And it felt like three whole long days. This movie has a good concept, but a horrible delivery. There are way too many plot holes in the movie. It is so boring. The characters are all flat and one dimensional. While the lead actors are attractive, none of them are very talented. Kristin Davis, who is usually pretty good, is terrible here. It's not really her fault though, because her role was so unglamorous. Most of the other actors are also awful. Only Rob Lowe's performance comes close to being adequate.

One more thing, would you put a nuclear bomb on a train?!
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3/10
Nice action, poor research
jinns_girl19 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I just watched this movie on USA. I'd always caught the very end of it, but never seen the whole thing. Now I'm sorry to say that I have. While I don't know much about the atomic end, I was a chemistry major in college. First of all, sodium is a metal, not a liquid. There is no way it could "leak" out of a barrel. The only thing leaking would be mineral oil with is what sodium is stored in. Secondly, while it does react violently with water, I cannot imagine it reacting with a huge fireball. I still have no idea how the movie gets from this point to the end because I was so disgusted with the lack of research into simple chemical reactions that I changed the channel.
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Drugery
Altaira9 December 2000
For lack of a harsher adjective, this movie was bad. I suppose you're not surprised, considering it's a TV movie with the requisite impossible plot, wimpy soundtrack and endless....endless.......poor writing.

My only question: Why on earth did Mena Suvari do this movie?
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1/10
I watched it on free TV and I want my money back!!
swekos22 September 2006
I rarely, if ever, give a movie the dreaded 1. I usually try and look for the good parts of a movie, whether it's the acting, or the story, or some subplot, or even the special effects. But with this total waste of time, there was no doubt at all. It is sad when a movie is so bad, so lame, that is essentially a parody of itself. What is even sadder is that this definitely was not a cheap movie made by college kids with nothing better to do. No, this is a network flick, and lots of thousands of dollars went into creating this piece of nonsense

The acting is the high spot of the movie, yet in places it is barely watchable. The production values are so-so, the effects are there, but aren't exactly that special. But what really makes this movie so bad, it's the plot. It's not a really bad idea, it's just how the idea was developed, or tried to, i better say. The plot holes are so big, you could drive a train through them. I could not figure the meaning and purpose of about half of the scenes, and the entire riot subplot is mildly put, ridiculous.
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4/10
I have wife and kids, so I'd better leave now!
Milevskiy8 August 2004
Normally, in these type of movies, we get a simple plot where the hero defuses the bomb and the villain is either killed or arrested. Not here, which is the only good thing about it.

The bad stuff is just everywhere. You keep asking yourself: 'why doesn't he do this or that and save us some time?' None of the main characters makes sense.

The boy climbing down a ladder to help his dad finds himself stuck. The father, who is seriously injured, now has to pull his son back up the ladder using a rope. And what does he get in return? A ladder in his face! And so much for his dad, the guy's is goner. Killed by his own son. Nice thing to work with, plotwise? No way, the boy doesn't even care!

Mena Suvari's boyfriend is nothing more than a pain in the ass. He succeeds in getting injured even before anything happens! Then he just lays around feeling sorry for himself. Well done! The would-be-hero-dude (Rob Lowe) who pulls out of the rescue operation and leaves all the work to his college who (of course, he was black and previously unintroduced) dies. It's like saying: 'I'm a firefighter, but I have wife and kids, so I'd better leave now!'

I don't feel like writing anymore about this, as it feels like a waste of time. A strange thing is that I enjoyed watching it, merely to laugh at the mistakes and plot holes. So it might have Ed Wood potential!

O yeah: what ever happened to the black guy leading the firetruck parade?

4/10
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10/10
Come on ride the train!!
mulder66510 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
From the creative masterminds who probably brought you "Walker Texas Ranger" comes the action packed suspense movie extravaganza of last century!!

Starring Rob Lowe, Mena Suvari, and a dozen other people I don't know, it's..... Atomic Train!! Watch as NTSB investigator John Seger tries to stop a freight train carrying a nuclear weapon race out of control through the scenic Rocky Mountains to the city of Denver!!

See corny effects like CGI images of trains rushing past trees and mountains. Watch in amazement as actors come within mere inches of hitting each other in the face, and yet their victims' heads still fly backwards.

Marvel at geniuses who park their helicoptors on the train tracks even when they know that there's a runaway train on the loose. Wonder in awe why professional school bus drivers with two dozen kids in tow would cross a railroad crossing without even looking, only to have the engine stall when they reach the middle of the intersection... what are the odds!!!!

Be entertained by the intelligent conversations such as the one featured here...

John's Daughter: Where's my Dad? John's Wife: I don't know. Last I heard, he was on the train when it derailed. John's Daughter: So... where is he?

Brilliant!! And the catchy one-liners are even better. The comedy never stops!! But you'll have to see for yourself. This movie is a riveting two and a half hours long, but don't ask me how it ends... I shut it off with an hour left!!!!

That's "Atomic Train," possibly airing on great networks like USA... check local listings for the next showing. If you miss it, you might cry!!
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4/10
Pretty bad.
andrew_in_york12 January 2004
I give movies which I cannot stomach watching till the final credits a rating of 3 or below. I gave this film a 4 because I watched it till the end - only because there was nothing else to watch on TV at the time.

More holes that a slice of swiss cheese - that the mice got at.
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1/10
What a joke!
jimdavis0110 July 2004
The impossibilities of this actual event occurring are incredible. Good thing it is fiction since this type of event couldn't happen thanks to the installed air brake fail-safes on every train in use since 1870. When a train loses air pressure in its braking system it causes the brakes on each car to lock up successively, spreading from the initial problem and moving towards the front and rear of the train. Emergency brakes are actuated on a train by a LOSS of air pressure NOT an existence of one. Similar to the way the air brakes work on a semi-truck...

"Anything that causes a QUICK drop in brake pipe pressure at any car, will trigger that car which in turn triggers adjoining cars and thus puts the whole train in emergency. This initial trigger could be the engineer, the conductor pulling his emergency valve in the caboose, the brakeman pulling his valve in the cab, the train or air hoses coming uncoupled, or an air hose bursting."

The producers should have discussed this movie with a REAL train person before they created this farce. This movie isn't worth watching past the first half hour if you are looking for any bit of a credible storyline.
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1/10
Everything goes wrong, even things that couldn't go wrong!
jones26517 December 2006
Nearly every trite event possible has been thrown into this dragging nightmare. The evil money hungry young man sneaks an apparently armed Russian bomb onto a train. How did he get it on there? The Russian's are trying to "dispose" of this? Why didn't they disarm it? Isn't it easier to dispose of nuclear waste in Russia? And the spineless accountant has to go along with the scheme. Why do they always tell the accountant? But he calls in a warning (from the office phone to the train control center, not the police by the way). What do you look under to find the number for the train control center? Was it the chemicals that ate through the chemical resistant air hoses in a few short hours or was it the fire inside the boxcar that shouldn't have been able to reach under the car to the brake lines? And don't the brakes go ON like tractor trailers when the brake pressure is lost? Couldn't they have put the train electric motors in REVERSE? What about all those big wheels on each train car that run the MANUAL EMERGENCY BRAKES? And the train coupler failed? What are the odds? The government bomb experts have no idea what the bomb configuration is, but one brave man tells us he can disarm it in his sleep. And it just goes on and on and on and I could go on and on and on, but all bad things must end. And the very minute the crisis is over apparently somebody is rebuilding a house on the tarmac outside the hanger. How can so many good actors put together such a horrible movie? I hope you get to watch this too because misery loves company.
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1/10
The worst movie ever made
redshift45115 March 2005
I won't go into great detail on all the plot holes because it would take all day, but I will point out a few. First off, as others have pointed out, if a brake line on a train breaks, the emergency brakes automatically engage. No exceptions. That is how they work. The pressure in the line keep the brakes open. Loss of pressure allows them to close. Second, nuclear weapons do not explode because of fire. Third, unless the train route were all downhill (which it could not be going to Denver) even without brakes the train would have slowed down and stopped had the engineer only TURNED OFF THE ENGINE!!! These are only some of the major plot holes in this movie. Not five minutes went by in the film without another. I saw a movie called "Slugs" years ago about killer slugs eating people that I always thought was the worst movie ever. This one is 100 times worse. I don't usually insult people for their taste in movies, but there are people who gave this 9/10. ???
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4/10
Cast name
vatpik129 June 2010
Are you telling me that amongst all the other awfulness of this there really is a character called Phister? You sure they didn't mean the director or the writers? Well, it fits with the rest of it, I guess. As I need ten lines of text, so it says in the rules,to make a review I'll try and think of some more to say about this farrago. First, in fairness mode we can say that much of the camera-work isn't at all bad if at times repetitive. Shows us some nice travelogue views, too. But just when you think that O.K., here comes the heroic resolution, this is going to be the bit where virtue triumphs and the bad guys(unseen and possibly non-existent - mind you, I couldn't stick it to the end)are heroically thwarted. Pelion upon Ossa to no effect - oi ve.

Mike
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3/10
It's a train wreck, all right, just not the way they intended it ...
vfrickey2 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Especially terrible disasters are called "train wrecks." This movie shows us why. Its needlessly convoluted plot creates a movie which at times transcends mere stupidity to be a painful experience, despite the "name" actors and actresses which it features.

This film's significance is probably as a footnote to the history of Rob Lowe's comeback (it originally aired just before the premiere of "The West Wing," if I recall correctly, and on NBC, the same US television network as "West Wing").

I originally gave this turkey a "7" rating, but having watched it twice since (SciFi Network likes to play it on national holidays next to "The Day After," please don't ask me why... ) I can't see why I gave it such an undeservedly high rating. It's more like a "3."

"Needlessly convoluted" how, you ask? Well, how about Soviet nuclear weapons turning up as scrap in an American boxcar - when the sleazy scrap dealer could have made more money billing the US Department of Energy to transport them according to the regulations for such things (in the real-life Nunn-Lugar nuclear threat reduction program, the US Enrichment Corporation buys just the plutonium, not nuclear weapons - the Russians decommission their nuclear weapons in-country and ship us the special nuclear material). Even then, plutonium travels under heavily armed escort in this country - on armored semis, not trains, and there's never a whole bomb's worth (a "formula quantity") of weapons-grade fissile on the roads of the US at any given time.

Whoppers like crates full of assembled Soviet nukes traveling as cargo inside civilian boxcars don't as much harm as obliterate willing suspension of disbelief in the audience.

The acting is undistinguished - of course, for his comeback, all Rob Lowe had to do is stay out of trouble with the young ladies off camera during filming, but he put in a decent performance - nothing to write home about. But no one really shines in this film - Edward Herrmann gave better performances during his commercials for Dodge around the same time.

The two-part nature of this presentation (it originally was a two-part miniseries on NBC) also causes problems - the movie shifts from being a mildly plausible sci-fi thriller in Part One to a survivalist cliff-hanger adventure (still not very plausible) and the psychological subplots detract from the pace of the production badly.

I can't recommend this film for anything but background noise while one's busy doing other things. If you pay full attention to what's happening in this turkey, you actually enjoy it less. "Atomic Train" is an embarrassment to all involved in its creation.
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4/10
Welcome to the valley of the cliche
robertcarolina27 July 2001
The piece starts interestingly enough, as a train carrying hazardous materials and a contraband nuclear warhead rattles its way across the mountains towards Denver with a serious case of brake-failure. The film never quite manages to be the action-adventure flick that the its creators probably intended (my fellow Dayton-ian Rob Lowe as Action Man?), but it does rather start to work as a comedy - a comedy of errors. Just when you think you've reached the end of your bad luck day, yet another incredible coincidence comes up that plunges the characters into harm's way.

I won't give away any of the various plot twists, but my wife and I started to laugh every time an ignorant walk-on character delivered a line like: "I've got to do something right now, because lives are at risk". This is, perhaps, one thing that distinguishes this film from other American-made catastrophe flicks: it does not glorify the plucky non-professional and well-meaning individualist who rebells from authority but then manages to save the day anyway. (Sorry, Bruce Willis.) These sorts of "rugged individuals" (i.e., stupid but well-meaning folk) keep recurring - mostly as cannon fodder for the ever-increasing body count.

Perhaps the moral of the movie could be summarised as, "this is what happens when you don't listen to the people in charge", or even, "no good deed goes unpunished". Unfortunately, the President of the US himself (played by reliable character actor Edward Herrmann) is given the unsavoury task of delivering the trite and didactic concluding thoughts near the end of the piece.

Come on, Rob, you are better than this train wreck waiting to happen.
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10/10
An outstanding afternoon's entertainment
stanleymchale10 October 2005
Here in the UK we have a channel called Five which is well known for showing rubbish films, especially during the day.

So when I saw a film called Atomic Train scheduled on that very channel this afternoon, I could have been excused for fearing the worst.

But Atomic Train is an outstanding production. I've always liked Rob Lowe's work, and in this instance he's again terrific.

I've also been a fan of trains for many years and so a film that contained Mr Lowe and a freight train was already off on the right foot with me.

But I couldn't have prepared myself for such a gripping ride. The set pieces are magnificent and certainly eek the best out of what must have been a substantial budget. The scenery and photography are also wonderful.

In terms of structure, the film builds brilliantly, with an air of suspense filling the room as the train hurtles towards Denver.

I can't recommend Atomic Train highly enough to fans of both trains and atomic weapons, but also to anyone wanting a hearty afternoon of pure escapism.

I can't understand why people have scored the film poorly for being unrealistic. And yet, they wont say Terminator 2 is unrealistic. Which it is. More so. The chances of creating androids that can ride a motorbike are very slim, even in the future. And time travel? No. That's even more unrealistic. So before deciding to write Atomic Train off, why not consider this;

At least trains exist. As do, unfortunately, atomic weapons. Therefore the film is quite realistic.
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1/10
Stupid
KillerZero31 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I've never seen anything such stupid. I watched it to the end just to see how stupid movie can be. There are so many mistakes that it makes the whole story is absurd, e.g train brakes works by opposite way. The train brakes by decreasing pressure in the brakes, so the train would stop in reality. (it is done so just to prevent accidents like this) Atomic bomb can't explode due to heat, fire would probably destroyed it. EMP pulse destroys everything electrical, not only chips... And some people act like retarded or something. e.g, (I don't remember her name) refused to fly by helicopter, because she wants to find her daughter. But it would be much easier to find her from the air.

(Sorry if there are some mistakes, English isn't my native language)
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8/10
great movie for Mystery Science Theater 3000
pukasan16 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a movie of a "net", it has nothing but holes. However...

the movie is so ridiculously lousy that it made me laugh and i can't help to start liking it , Maybe they made the movie this way on purpose because it's impossible to get this many morons working together and make a movie this bad.

Think about A.T. as a "Mystery Science Theater 3000" movie then you can really enjoy non-stop laughing and cussing for 2 good hours.

Every character in A.T. dies with a great-hilarious reason. i love every part when people get killed in this movie. the fat guy fell off and got smashed by the train, a kid climbed back up the train from the last car but tripped and got killed walking toward the back? and it's super funny when the "water is better than nothing" helicopter hillbillies screw up and, BOOM!. They should really make more people die in this movie. maybe Kristin Davis and Mena Suvari can show their boobs in the movie, they should get killed while having sex or swimming naked. and also, where is the dog in this movie? there should always be a dog in a movie like this, It can be a goofy K9 dog helping a bimbo soldier disarming the nuke weapon and both got toasted.

by the way, this movie is totally not shot in Colorado, (very likely in BC, Canada). But of course they don't care if you know or notice it. This movie can be fantastic when you are high, it's so much more entertaining than "jeepers creepers". If you like this movie because it's just ridiculously dumb and funny, you might love "the Room", that is a cult classic of this kind!
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1/10
I've seen better plots in porno...SPOILER ALERT!!!!!
The_Red_Harlot15 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Somebody really forgot the basics of screen writing with this dog of a movie. Why oh why did Hollywood torment us with this crap?

SPOILER ALERT! S P O I L E R S !!! SPOILER ALERT! S P O I L E R S !!!

SPOILER ALERT! S P O I L E R S !!!

I did like the shootout with the psycho militia MFs, but then again, that was the only, the ONLY believable part about this silly film.

AND WHY OH WHY DID THE NICE BLACK MAN END UP BEING THE CRISPY SACRIFICE? The black guy really does get blown up or killed in EVERY FILM--and this film is just full of stereotypes and clichés!

And WHY OH WHY did the stupid redneck yahoos end up being the idiots with the water bucket? And why oh why did nothing in this film make sense, including the stupid highway being blocked off? It's amateur night for sure, folks. Don't waste your time watching this dog. You should only watch this film if you like being bored out of your skull. Wait until the last bit of the movie when the bomb blows up if you like watching people flying in the air along with the glass and flames, but otherwise don't bother watching this--not even on cable!
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1/10
My condolences to the actors involved
leistico10 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
In all honesty, I have to express my sympathies to Lowe, Davis, Morales, Suvari, and all the others involved in this cinematic debacle--either the paychecks just weren't rolling in, or they were conned into thinking this script had potential. I just saw it on TV, and I would have laughed a LOT, had it just not been so tragic and head-shakingly bad.

I'm an actor and director, so I can speak to the quality of their performances, which were very good, considering the material they were given and the direction and production values and hideously implausible script. I would have loved to see more conflict between Lowe and Morales, and I could tell they were itching to inject it into their performances, but the script and production prevented any meaningful characterizations from coming out.

I'm also a moderate geek, so I can state some disputes with the story which destroyed my suspension of disbelief from the first moment of the film. Buses don't move and stop that quickly. Trains don't zip along that fast without camera tricks. Air brakes, of the kind used on every train and commercial tractor-trailer vehicle in existence, by design, lock up tight as a drum when air pressure is lost. And these are all within the first few minutes. I lost track of all the technical non-sequiturs and outright lousy whiskey-tango-foxtrot moments early on, and came to the conclusion that the writers and producers had but a nodding acquaintance with reality and know no fact-checkers. I won't even get into the fact that no one of our erstwhile heroes should have been left alive after around the halfway point.

Why the writers chose to make this flick run as long as it did...the mind lacks the courage to boggle. There's no legitimate climax to the film. What should have been the climax, the obvious 'boom', was reduced to a simple complication in the tale. from there, it was up-and-down rising action and denouement, leaving no fulfillment, only a feeling through the last third of the film of, "Dear God in Heaven, isn't this bloody thing over YET!?" No satisfaction from the resolution, no standout performances, no tour-de-force effects work (it was serviceable to the story...and that ain't a compliment), no plausibility, only a numbness and a feeling of having lost several hours, possibly an entire day, to a script that never should have gotten the green light.

Thank heavens the marquis names have moved on to bigger and better projects and made names for themselves, so they can say that they've all dodged the career-killing Atomic Train bullet.
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