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Film / Death Train

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Death Train (marketed in the United States as Detonator) is a 1993 action thriller starring Pierce Brosnan, Patrick Stewart, and Christopher Lee.

In Bremen, Germany, a group of mercenaries working for a renegade Russian general hijack a cargo train with hostages and a stolen nuclear bomb, proceeding south-east as a UN anti-terrorist task force tries to stop them.

This film provides examples of:

  • Deadline News: The chief hijacker, Alex Tierney, has a news crew brought onboard the train to prove to the world that the nuclear bomb they're carrying is real. Of course, this is used by the heroes to get their agents on the train, and Tierney is shot through the head on live television.
  • Evil Overlooker: Subverted. The cover makes it seem like Patrick Stewart is the villain overlooking Pierce Brosnan, but he's actually the latter's Spymaster and unambiguously on the side of the good guys. The real villain is a Renegade Russian played by Christopher Lee.
  • Helicopter Blender: Narrowly subverted when a spy is outed in the middle of a helicopter ride and he accidentally knocks out the pilot. Graham and Carver manage to wake him up right before they crash.
  • The Mole: Rodenko is actually a spy for General Benin.
  • Renegade Russian: A renegade Russian general (Christopher Lee) hopes to revive the Soviet Union by building a nuclear bomb with stolen weapons-grade plutonium, then handing it over to the Baath regime in Iraq so that the Russians will invade it to recover their weapon, with the inevitable American response forcing them to go back to their Soviet ways.
  • Running Gag: A minor one. Sabrina Carver mentions early in the film that her boss, Malcom Philpott (Patrick Stewart) broke his wrist boxing at the Harlem Athletic Club, and indeed Philpott is shown with a cast on that wrist throughout the film. Twice afterwards, members of the UNACO team who are on friendly terms with Philpott (namely Michael Graham and C.W. Whitlock) remark on the injury.
    Graham: What happened, fall out of your easy chair?
    Philpott: The noble art.
    Graham: Let me guess…
    Philpott and Graham: (in unison) You should see the other guy.
  • Sickbed Slaying: General Benin orders the scientist who constructed the bombs for him (who is already dying in the hospital from radiation poisoning because of the faulty equipment Benin had provided him) to be killed to keep him from talking. Whitlock stops the assassin in time, but accidentally injects him with the poison.
  • Wire Dilemma: The first bomb requires cutting the wires on it in a specific order or it will explode, and is only stopped at the last second. The second bomb starts counting down after Benin activates it but Graham can't remember the exact sequence. Fortunately, the scientist who built it had sabotaged it as payback against Benin for exposing him to its radiation.