It’s time for another Gene Wilder film. This one sees him witness a murder while on a train and now he must try to get away with his life. This will be no easy task since everyone wants him dead now. George also has a tough time remembering how villains love to attack from behind, which gets him into a few sticky situations. He’ll need all of his skills and experience if he wants to get out of this in one piece. It’s a pretty fun film for the most part and the only thing that drags it down a little is the heavy handed romance plot which suffers from poor writing and being generally unrealistic. There just isn’t much to it and the whole time you’re just wondering why the subplot was included. The film would have been even better without it.
As mentioned earlier, George was just minding his own business at first. He wanted a train ride so he could have time to think and relax. Unfortunately, he quickly meets a bad influence who tells him that train rides are only good for finding rebound characters. It turns out that he was right as George quickly dashes back to his room in triumph. The joy is short lived as a dead body crashes past his room and then George is thrown off the train by a bunch of brutes. George must get back on the train and save Hilly or it is all over. Can he really catch a train though? Even if he does…what hope does he have against trained professionals?
George isn’t really my kind of main character. He has his funny moments as always since the actor is quite good at playing this type of character. The reason I can’t like George is because he’s simply too easy and he can also be rather slow on the uptake. George also isn’t much of a fighter so he ends up getting knocked around whenever he doesn’t have a gun. It is still priceless to see him panic at everything though. His constant yelling is what makes his character enjoyable most of the time. Unfortunately, Hilly doesn’t end up being a good heroine. Unlike George, she isn’t even charismatic and funny to make up for it. She really messes up every opportunity possible and a lot of the time she has no real reason to make the decisions that she does. For example, she had George alone with her quite a few times and still decided to keep him in the dark. Even once the villains throw him off the train and start to get violent, she tries to trick George into thinking that he was imagining everything. That was never going to work and if she thought that the villains were going to leave him alone, then she was just being very naive. Throw in the fact that she is constantly flirting and seems to be very “free” in the worst meaning of the word and you have a very underwhelming character.
Luckily, we had Grover as the fan favorite character. He doesn’t show up until we’re well through the film so unfortunately his role is rather small. No matter, he still made the film a whole lot more fun and I can see why people would like him and Wilder as a good combo. Their characters worked well together. Grover’s appearance meant that Gene finally had some muscle backing him up and he would have certainly been doomed otherwise. Grover even got the happiest ending out of all the characters so his hard work paid off.
Roger is the main villain and he’s all right. He’s basically your average villain so there’s nothing unique about him, but he does a good job in the role. He keeps the heroes on their guard at all times and does have a lot of confidence. Even once he is outnumbered and at gunpoint, he tries to make a deal with George. Only plot hax is enough to save him at that point. He may have even been a little better than I would have expected. One of his minions, Reace, was also all right. He’s definitely an intimidating villain since he is rather huge and one good hit would be enough to defeat George. Luckily, fights between mere mortals will always come down to who has the better aim and George is a crackshot with a harpoon.
Finally, I have to mention that the main Police agent in the film is pretty bad. Bob is undercover so he uses that as an excuse to get drunk and flirt a lot before actually getting serious, but it’s a little too late by that point. He’s a very unlikable character and not even a very competent one at that. He opens a door without even looking even though he knows that gangsters are on the train. Seriously, they even knocked to give him a bit of a warning, but it was no use. Common sense couldn’t save Bob so what chance did George and friends have?
This film would have been an easy 7, but the main thing holding it back is the romance. As mentioned earlier, the plot isn’t written well. It just implies that George and Hilly are both people who will start a relationship with just anybody and are constantly on the rebound. The plot is given way too much screen time and you have whole minutes of nothing happening because they are too busy with each other. It slows the film down and that’s something that the film didn’t need since it is already so long. Parts of the film do drag towards the middle and this doesn’t help matters. Honestly, getting off the train 2-3 times was rather embarrassing. Actually jumping off was probably the worst mistake that George made. The heroes had the win in the bag at that point, but didn’t have the courage to follow through.
The milking the cow scene is also pretty gross, but I’ve always thought so. It’s just hard to watch and looks so painful for the cow. That’s why you should always bring something with you while watching a movie, like a snack or a water or something. That way you can quickly look away and grab that as you wait for the scene to end. Honestly, the cow scene is almost worse than the normal romance because of how iffy it is. Back to positives, the action scenes are pretty solid. Action isn’t exactly one of the genres so don’t expect long fight scenes or anything like that, but the fact that George can’t really fight makes his action scenes entertaining.
Overall, Silver Streak is a good film. I highly recommend the TV version since it cut out what felt like dozens of swear words throughout. The air bubbles make for a pretty funny experience. The romance holds it back and the cow scene was unnecessary, but the rest of the film is strong enough to make up for that. If you’re a Gene Wilder fan then you already know what to expect. If not, just come in looking for a fun retro comedy film and it should not disappoint. It’s not quite as strong as his Willy Wonka film, but it is still solid. Gene is definitely rising up as one of the better actors for me. He’s certainly charismatic and the fact that he always plays the same character type works for me. If you’ve got a good thing going, why switch it right? Get ready for some serious plot hax, but….since when has a gun film not had some of that?