“Railway Children” is the sequel to a successful ’70s family film in the UK. The ’70s film was called “The Railway Children.” Why the word “The” was dropped from the title for this sequel is beyond me, but there we have it. Actress Jenny Agutter (An American Werewolf in London) plays a character named Bobbie in both films. In “The Railway Children,” she was the older sister who, during World War 2, helped her mother move the tribe from the city to Yorkshire village.
Parents take their nicely dressed offspring to the train station, hoping the little ones look good enough to be “picked.” This was so they could escape harm and Nazi soldiers. In this new version, she’s the adult, helping children safely get to the same town. She knows first-hand the danger they’re all in if they stay.
The parents say their goodbyes with hugs and kisses, hoping it won’t be the last time they see their kids. At the end of the line, the kids are picked over like cattle. A new family will hopefully take the children into their home and watch over them temporarily, but maybe forever.
Though they may never see their family again, it’s best they escape the hell of war than stay with their parents and risk bombings and capture by German troops.
Once the train stopped and the picking began, Bobbie confirmed that siblings stayed together. She also ensured each child knew that getting their children out of harm’s way was very thoughtful and loving and difficult for their parents. It’s late in the day and the kids have been chosen, yet a family of three children Lily (Beau Gadsdon), Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and Ted (Zac Cudby), stand together in the terminal. The three are nervous. They didn’t want to be separated, but they certainly didn’t want to be left to fend for themselves, either. Bobbie, her daughter, Annie (Sheridan Smith), and her young son Thomas (Austin Haynes) take the siblings in. This is where their new lives begin and where the adventure in the movie should start.
It’s cute how the city kids are shown by the country boy how to collect eggs for breakfast, but is cute enough for today’s audience? There’s not a lot of tension building to give us something to look forward to and not a lot of character buildup to reveal change and growth.
There are a few local boys who the four fight a few times. Inadequately introduced and played out, this will not interest you. So, it’s not until the kids run into a black American soldier named Abe (KJ Aikens), sleeping in one of the train cars, does the film find proper focus. The story was getting around to something; this wasn’t what I expected. Abe tells the kids he’s on a secret military mission. Lily sees how badly he’s hurt, so she arranges to feed him and get him the supplies he needs. They all agree to keep him safe. Well, for a while, anyway.
Abe is actually on the run from the Military Police. It’s here where a not-so-surprising theme of racism meanders its way into the story. Things are said that affirm the difference between what one family may go through versus another based on race. And what skin color gets you or what it won’t.
If nothing else, “Railway Children” can serve as a reminder to be kind to one another no matter who you are or what you look like.
Here, the sets are first-rate, and the acting is fair to middling, but the script disappointed me. It was weak. It wasn’t at all fresh or invigorating. I remember watching movies geared toward me with my family when I was young. The excitement these stories left me with would last an entire season. This movie will do no such thing for anyone of any age.
Director: Morgan Matthews
Written by: Daniel Brocklehurst, Jemma Rodgers
Starring: Jenny Agutter, Sheridan Smith, John Bradley, Tom Courtenay, Beau Gadsdon, KJ Aikens
Run Time: 1h 35m
Genres: Adventure, Drama, Family
Produced by: Jemma Rodgers
Distributed by: Blue Fox Entertainment