“We got on the wrong shuttle” – Melanie
Melanie (Peyton List) and Jules (Cameron Goodman) return from a quick trip to Mexico, only to have their weekend of fun and sun dampened by air-sickness and the airline losing Melanie’s luggage. To make the situation worse, the shuttle they were forced to use to take them home, has experienced a flat tire in a rough neighborhood. But things aren’t all bad, as they are in the company of Seth (James Snyder) and Matt (Dave Power), two young men they met while at the airport. But what starts out as a simple series of disappointments, turns into a nightmare for the passengers of this particular shuttle, when it is revealed that the driver (Tony Curran) never had any attention of delivering them safely to their desired destination.
It’s an interesting premise and one I had thought of before while in a taxi. I was in Jamaica where my wife and I decided to go off the beaten path a bit and with a few other tourists, flagged down a taxi that was nothing more than someone driving their own personal vehicle. I realized that we were a bunch of sunburned cattle in a foreign land with no real idea as to where we were and now completely at the mercy of this cab driver who hopefully was taking us to a less-populated beach. In my head, and for my own morbid amusement, I imagined a worse-case scenario of being driven to a deserted area, stripped, robbed and maybe even worse. It would have been almost too easy to carry out. But Shuttle takes place in the US, and my two major gripes with the film are a direct result of that.
As a thriller, it is full of some of things I dislike the most in the genre. Things like implausibility, asking me to suspend my disbelief to almost brain dead levels, and characters who make some of the fucking DUMBEST decisions you will ever witness. No matter what the situation, the people in this movie, when given a choice, will ultimately make the most asinine one. Then there is the late-night, urban setting. I understand that there are cities out there in the United States, cities with airports and an area that is deemed “downtown”, in which the carpets roll up after sundown – hell, I live in Charlotte, NC. But the city in Shuttle is like London at the beginning of 28 Days Later. It is a ghost town so devoid of any sign of life that nothing that is done in the film is witnessed by anyone at anytime and no matter what activity the characters are involved in, they do so completely unobserved and undisturbed. It is as if they are the city’s only living inhabitants.
But even with those gripes, Edward Anderson has actually crafted a pretty decent film. With a solid cast of fairly likable good guys with equally unlikeable bad guys, Shuttle manages to be an average thriller despite its flaws and lapses in logic. The film looks pretty good to boot. Shot entirely at night on empty urban streets, the dark illuminated by harsh glow of fluorescent lights from street lamps, the interiors of the shuttle, ATM enclosures, and even grocery stores. It is a familiar site for those of you who have ever walked off of a dark, deserted street into a seemingly safe, well-lit establishment that is just as deserted. Both are eery environments and Anderson does a good job of capturing that visual contrast while still maintaining the haunting feel of urban isolation. There is some violence in the film but none of it is over the top. This is not a gory horror film as much as it is a thriller with some acts of violence in it so if you came for buckets of blood, you’ll find none of that here.
Had Shuttle been based in a foreign country, I feel that it would have liked it a half-star more as it would have been a lot more effective and alleviated some of my major problems with the film, along with making some of the plot points a bit easier to swallow. Putting the film in a foreign city somewhere could have played on the fears of the American traveller a bit more (come on, they are doing it already) and allow the viewer to more easily accept the scenario. Or maybe it is best they didn’t, especially with some films suffering some sort of politically correct backlash when portraying foreigners as bands of psychopaths with a penchant for harming Westerners as seen in films such as Taken (our review) or the “vacation torture” films like Hostel and Turistas. But as it stands, Anderson was able to create a well-crafted DTV title, even if takes place in a American city where people can do anything unnoticed as long as it is late at night. If you can accept that, you will be treated to a well-acted movie with just enough cat and mouse action to keep you engaged and on board all the way to Shuttle’s final destination.
The Shuttle DVD arrives Magnolia Home Entertainment under their Magnet label. Presented in a 2:35:1 widescreen format with English 5.1 and 2.0 Audio (Spanish subtitles). Not much in the way of extras.
Behind the Scenes - 5 minutes of behind the scene footage, with some commentary from some of the cast.
Casting Sessions – 24 minutes of line reading from all of the main characters in the film.
Deleted Scenes – A menuless 4 minutes of footage cut from the film. Three scenes, that once watched, leave no questions as to why they are cut. They neither hinder or forward the story, so I assume they were simply cut for running time reasons.