User Reviews (6)

  • rsoonsa27 August 2003
    This delightful piece relates of an unscheduled jaunt aboard a locomotive "borrowed" by veteran trainmen Will Henry (Wilford Brimley) and Leo Pickett (Levon Helm) after their employer, Southland Railroad, shifts its manner of freight transport to the airlanes, resulting in the closure of a railyard in Clifford, Arkansas, with a subsequent loss to many in the small town of their livelihood. Freshman director Jay Russell, invited while attending a similarly fledgling Sundance Institute's workshop to develop his script, does so very effectively, with most of the filming taking place near his hometown of Little Rock, enabling Russell's strongly regional feeling for the South to aid him in composing a very personal, well-executed work. The locomotive is being taken by Will and Leo to Chicago, wherein the pair hope to present their grievances to the parent corporation's board chairman, and Russell formulates a recipe for some delicious humour, some satirical, during the adventure, with blessedly minimal slapstick, focussing not only upon the two railroaders but their waiting families, as well. A well-selected cast is aptly directed, with particularly strong performances from Kevin Bacon, Mary Steenburgen and Holly Hunter, the last two of whom gift the scenario with delicious comedic timing. With talented supporting players helping to make possible a successful blend of whimsy and the didactic, END OF THE LINE belies its rather low budget, assisted to a large extent by cinematographer George Tirl, who here intensifies the standard colour scale while utilizing a wide range of facial lighting to help in representing performers' thoughts.
  • luciencoolness13 September 2004
    Interesting feelgood roadmovie
    This film is really a roadmovie. In this case, the road is a cargo train track from the fictional town Clifford, Arkansas, to Chicago, a trip of what would be roughly 1000 kilometers or 650 miles. Roadmovies are often interesting. You get to see a lot from what would be seen from the train. This put together with a feelgood story, slapstick humor and drama, makes it really worthwhile to see. It's hardly ever boring. It's not even a predictable story. I'd recommend it. The model track in the owner's office must make people who like toy trains drool. As the user ratings show, some rate it high, some rate it low. I belong to the first category. As far as I am concerned, it's in the top 5 of train movies.
  • Tomlonso24 February 2005
    Not nearly as goofy as I thought it would be
    A friend at work loaned me this movie because he knows I'm nuts about trains. The plot synopsis, of driving a locomotive from Arkansas to Chicago, seemed too silly and unrealistic, to the point where I wasn't sure I would enjoy the movie. You know, like Karen Black flying a 747.

    Fortunately there was a good explanation for how they managed to get the locomotive to Chicago, so I could relax and enjoy some really nice character studies and a fairly decent yarn. The life of folks who live in double-wides was told with a great deal of sympathy and understanding, without being pandering or condescending. Wilford Brimley as the life-long railroad man was particularly well done, as were Barbara Barrie as his wife and Kevin Bacon as a guy with more testosterone than brains.

    But any movie that features both Clint Howard and Rita Jenrette is probably not Oscar material, and neither is a movie with a plot hole in the third act big enough to drive a locomotive through. Still, I'm glad I saw the movie. It doesn't bother me at all that I'll never get the time back that I spent watching it.
  • editguy14 February 2006
    As much as I love trains, I couldn't stomach this movie. The premise that one could steal a locomotive and "drive" from Arkansas to Chicago without hitting another train along the way has to be right up there on the Impossible Plot lines hit board. Imagine two disgruntled NASA employees stealing the "crawler" that totes the shuttles to and fro and driving it to New York and you get the idea.

    Having said all that, it's a nice try. Wilford Brimely is at his Quaker Oats best, and Levon Helm turns a good performance as his dimwitted but well-meaning sidekick. Bob Balaban is suitably wormy as the Corporate Guy, and the "little guy takes on Goliath" story gets another airing.
  • DigitalRevenantX726 August 2015
    More relevant in Australia than in the US.
    Haney & Leo have been working at their town's local rail freight depot for decades. But when the company that owns the depot shuts it down in order to switch to air freight, the pair decide to steal a locomotive & drive it all the way to Chicago in order to make a case about saving their jobs, in the process turning them into folk heroes.

    End of the Line was a drama made in 1987, starring Wilford Brimley & Levon Helm as a pair of railroad workers suddenly made redundant by corporate restructuring. The story is an interesting one (something that would be more relevant here in Australia since the Australian Labor government of 2007-2013 introduced their carbon tax – a tax that was designed to shut down the country's automotive industry which it ultimately did, thanks to the tax's designers, the Australian Greens & their nutty desire to turn Australian drivers into a nation of pushbike riders) & the acting is excellent from all corners. Kevin Bacon makes another of his appearances as Brimley's son-in-law, who has a bad case of gambling addiction & runs a small-time betting ring. But the film is hamstrung by a lack of purpose that hurts the film's chances of becoming a minor classic.
  • David Ecklein19 December 2009
    Business strategy by Southland is quite plausible
    Warning: Spoilers
    "End of the Line" is a worthwhile movie for all reasons other reviewers have noted. However, the objection is made that a railroad could not be restructured as an air freight business, and so the plot supposedly has a gaping hole. This misses the point. Due to the special situation in the US, railroads have been losing freight contracts to the trucking industry for years, and small towns are most affected, just as illustrated in the film. Therefore, it would be reasonable for Southland to liquidate unprofitable rail holdings and invest their capital in air freight, which carries a different class of goods and is more profitable. A few shots of semi-trailers pulling into Clifford at the beginning of the film might have made the point, but in restructuring the business one doesn't expect air freight terminals to be located in such small Arkansas towns anyway.

    Although it is hard to believe these two fellows would have been able to steal the train under ordinary circumstances, remember that the acting president found out about this and wanted to co-opt the situation for advertising purposes, and so there was a degree of complicity. Perhaps enough for it to come off.

    The film is quite pointed about the lack of compassion of capital for the workers, but this is done in an amusing light-hearted way. And the solution for the future of these workers, in spite of the feel-good ending, is left realistically ambiguous.

    Go ahead and enjoy this good-natured and well-acted film.