10 Real Movie Trainwrecks

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Amy Schumer comedy Trainwreck has joined Unstoppable in the list of films that didn't do exactly what they said on the tin. Was it funny? Definitely. Did we enjoy it? Sure. Was there a traincrash in it? Nope. Instead of reaching for the number of The Simpsons' Lionel Hutz - the man who successfully sued The NeverEnding Story for false advertising - we've decided to make good this rail fail with a compilation of some of the most spectacular smashes, shunts and bridge plunges in the movies. Hold onto your hats people, the line is down.


Runaway Train **(1985)

We don't want to spoil the ending of this film but it's called Runaway Train and it's got a prison-crazed Jon Voight and an express train having a loco-off, so it's safe to say it doesn't end with a nice cuppa at Charing Cross. The ultimate resting place for the 14.29 from Prisontown is unknown but if anyone had a return ticket, they'd be disappointed.

Back To The Future III (1990)

Even the most delayed Network Rail journeys don't usually deposit their passengers 100 years in the future. But then, Southern Rail don't have the number of Doc Brown's plutonium supplier. Here the lightbulb-brained inventor improvises a way to get the DeLorean from 1885 to 1985 using only Hill Valley's rolling stock and his trusty flux capacitor. The rolling stock is left needing to find its own way back from the bottom of the valley.

The Lone Ranger (2013)

Many took against The Lone Ranger (AKA 'The Long Ranger') when it giddy-upped onto our screens in the summer of 2013, but while we don't normally approve of sticking horses in trees, it still had lots to recommend it. For one thing, there was an epic Gore Verbinski set-piece involving Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer and a big train doing its best Thelma & Louise impression. Choo! Choooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo...

Hugo (2011)

Of all the ways to exit a train station, smashing through its enormous front facade and plunging into the street below is not usually one of them. This train smash - based on a real-life accident at Gare Montparnasse in 1895 - is Martin Scorsese's handiwork, made with a combination of a 1:4 scale locomotive, 144 set builders, some green screen and the broken hearts of a thousand trainspotters.

The Fugitive (1993)

This sleeper hit - yes, we went there - had Harrison Ford's doc Richard Kimble inadvertently freed by a big old bus-meets-train smash. The real-life train was so heavy and so ruined by the crash - and, let's face it, the studio was a leetle bit lazy too - that it's still sitting wrecked on a North Carolina trackside. If you happen to be doing a grid search in the area, here's where to find it.

Red Tails (2012)

Trains get a rough time in war movies. They're bombed, strafed, commandeered, exploded or at the very least, left to rust in a siding. Sometimes they'll get lucky and be loaded with fancy art and even fancier Burt Lancaster (The Train) or heroic Michael Caine and a band of grizzled paratroopers (The Eagle Has Landed); sometimes they end up in Red Tails being cannoned into train heaven by George Lucas. This is one of those times.

The Expendables 3 (2014)

In what's commonly known as 'A Reverse Runaway Train', Barney Ross's autumnal if still chiselled crew seize a prison locomotive, free Wesley Snipes' diabolically beardy Doctor Death and then in the least subtle act of track-covering in movie history, drive it straight back into the penitentiary at high velocity. It explodes and a Latin despot is left to rethink his transport and prison policies.

Ant-Man (2015)

You'd have got long odds on the best joke in Marvel's insect adventure involving Thomas The Tank Engine. But, sure enough, Paul Rudd's Ant-Man and Corey Stoll's Yellowjacket knock seven bells out of each other in the micro climax aboard the cuddly steam train. It all ends with a tragic derailment. Somewhere off camera The Fat Controller is sobbing into his top hat.

The Greatest Show On Earth (1952) / Super 8 (2011)

The Big Top gets big-toppled in a two-train pile-up orchestrated by a weasely ex-employee. It's easy to see how this harrowing coal-tastrophe made such a big impression on Steven Spielberg. This was the first film he ever watched (before he was five, fact fans!) and the sequence's key beats - escaping circus animals, rolling stock folding up like a terrifying card trick - all play into Super 8's train disaster as a kinda homage to the Oscar winner from its producer and his apprentice, J.J. Abrams.

The General (1926)

Arguably the most famous train smash in cinema history, The General's coked-up bridge plunge was the most expensive single shot in the silent movie era, costing a peeper-popping $750,000. Old Trusty, a Civil War steam engine train-napped and steamed into Northern-held territory, has been rescued by Buster Keaton's equally doughty engineer. A Union engine, the Texas, steams after in pursuit. Then this happens.