Best Train Scenes In Movie History

The best train scenes include Source Code and Strangers on a Train.

By TeeJay Small | Published

Since the dawn of moving pictures, film directors have aspired to create thrilling set pieces using the fastest moving and largest scale modes of travel, leading to the inevitable peak of cinema with the intensely action-packed Fast and Furious film franchise. Train scenes have become such a staple in blockbusters of the last hundred years that they’ve even been parodied in series such as Archer, which dedicated a 2012 episode to the near-impossible logistics of fighting atop a moving train in the freezing Canadian wilderness. Here are six of the best train scenes in film history.

6. Snowpiercer (2013)

Warner Bros. Discovery

2013’s Snowpiercer, which takes place entirely on a moving train, has an abundance of incredible train scenes to choose from. The film, which takes place in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by the effects of global warming, centers on the final remaining human beings, separated by economic class and placed into a series of train cars on a track that continuously circles the Earth.

After a band of impoverished passengers from the poorest car on the train attempt a revolution, one climactic scene reveals that ammunition, which was once thought to be extinct, was hoarded by the wealthy class in order to quash rebellions such as these. In the scene, a fair fight becomes a veritable massacre, causing the poor revolutionaries to re-evaluate their mission while dramatically losing soldiers the audience has grown quite fond of throughout their short time in the movie.

5. Strangers On A Train (1951)

In this Alfred Hitchcock-helmed thriller noir, a pair of strangers meet in a location you’d never be able to guess… A train! The events of the film, which focus on a criss-crossed murder plot, are kicked into motion when an affluent man chooses to vent about his wife’s failure to grant him a divorce. The mysterious stranger in the famed train scene, portrayed expertly by the late Robert Walker, concocts a plan to murder the man’s wife, in exchange for the man murdering a target of his choosing.

The film has been hailed as a classic, with a near-perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, marking it as one of Hitchcock’s best.

4. Source Code (2011)

jake gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in this science fiction thriller as helicopter pilot Colter Stevens, who utilizes a top-secret military technology to relive the final moments of a slain agent who died in a commuter train explosion. The train explosion scene, which Gyllenhaal must relive over and over again, serves as an incredible logistical feat, as a number of carefully choreographed effects and movements had to be painstakingly recreated over and over again from multiple angles in order to properly display the scene from multiple perspectives.

The iconic scene sets forth an off-the-wall action sequence that propels the narrative for the rest of the film, utilizing a truly innovative take on the classic high-action train scene known throughout cinema.

3. Skyfall (2012)

2012’s Skyfall has been hailed by many as one of the greatest Bond films in the franchise, with a staggering 92 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. The film centers on a disastrous leak that compromises the identities of nearly every secret agent in the world, leading to a mass exposure of espionage operations, including James Bond‘s files. In the climactic train scene, Bond comes face to face with the film’s villain, Raoul Silva, as portrayed incredibly by Javier Bardem.

The intense fight showcases intense fight choreography and coordination as the pair battle it out on a moving train, facing environmental obstacles and near-certain death at every turn.

2. Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1989)

In a film series known for its incredible action sequences and excellent choreography, the iconic train scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade continues to stand out to this day. In the Steven Spielberg-helmed film, Indy and his father, played by Sean Connery, battle a band of ravenous Nazis on board a moving train.

Unlike other films in this list, The Last Crusade doesn’t linger in the train sequence for long stretches or multiple outings. The sequence is, instead, a brief detour on Indiana Jones‘ mission to rescue his father and reunite his family while fulfilling his father’s life’s work in the process.

1. North By Northwest (1959)

Closing out our list at number one is another entry from film legend Alfred Hitchcock, with the 1959 Cary Grant-led North By Northwest. The classic suspense film follows an upscale ad man from New York City who becomes mistaken for a rogue government agent. After being voraciously hunted by enemies of the state due to the misidentification, Grant’s Roger O. Thornhill is forced to defend himself during a climactic chase scene on the Mount Rushmore monument.

The climactic train scene of the film involves a highly suspenseful struggle between Grant and the film’s antagonist, James Mason’s Phillip Vandamm, as a moving train passes by beneath them, ensuring certain death if either of them falls from the monument.