Highly Recommended
4 stars
Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
4.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4.5 Stars
2.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

The Railway Man

Street Date:
August 12th, 2014
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
August 12th, 2014
Movie Release Year:
Starz/Anchor Bay
108 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Very few war-driven movies have the profound and emotional effect that 'The Railway Man' has. Based on the real account depicted in the book of the same name, this impassioned tale about a man who is living with a case of severe post-traumatic stress syndrome hits all of the right notes and emotions. Director Jonathan Teplitzky's ('Burning Man') adaptation of this story shows both the vicious horrors of war and what it does to a man and those he is close with, as well as show the beauty of friendship, loyalty, and forgiveness.

Even though you'll figure out where the film is going early on, you'll still be very happy you took the ride. And I have no doubt this film will spark some conversation with those around you. In most war movies, we see the actual war and the atrocities that are committed by humankind. We might even get a glimpse of what it might be like when the surviving soldiers return home to see their families. But rarely do we get a chance to see the horrors that haunt these surviving soldiers decades later. This condition is known as shell shock, or commonly known today as post-traumatic stress syndrome. This condition can completely debilitate someone to which they cannot move their limbs or have a solid conversation in society.

These poor individuals have experienced something so traumatic in their past that the thought of that time can overcome them and have negative effects on their lives and those around them. And 'The Railway Man' shows this on screen perfectly. This story follows a man named Eric Lomax (Colin Firth), who is a good man who falls in love with a beautiful woman named Patti (Nicole Kidman). Their loving relationship is put to the test when Eric starts convulsing violently due to his post-traumatic stress disorder. Once things settle down and with the help of Patti and his best friend Finlay (Stellan Skarsgard), Eric sets out to right the wrongs in his life and confront his past head on, literally.

Here is where the film flashes back many years earlier where we see a young Lomax (Jeremy Irvine), a British soldier who is captured and imprisoned with Finlay by the Japanese during WWII. The two are sent to a POW camp where they are to work under harsh conditions, building a bridge and are tortured at almost every turn. As the film passes along, we see Eric track down one of the men who tortured him in the camp, who got off on trial for war crimes. In addition to this film playing out a little like 'The Bridge on the River Kwai', it also follows a revenge plot, as Eric wants to  confront his former captors and seeks revenge for the shell of a man he has become.

Teplitzky shows us the transformation of a loving family man into a deep, dark monster that many years of torture and war could do to someone, and even though he has a good support system with his wife Patti, he may never recover fully from this shell shock. But through Firth's gracious yet chaotic body language and dialogue, this man's journey is quite redeeming as we see him confront his demons and past to not be scared anymore. Even Lomax's Japanese captor has a redeeming quality as he gives and sells his performance that is worthy of an Oscar.

'The Railway Man' is a top-tier film on every level, from its performances to its sets, to its screenplay. It's one war film that hits on all of the emotional buttons and is different enough to stand on its own from other war films. 


The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'The Railway Man' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Anchor Bay knocked this video presentation out of park. It looks fantastic. The image is crystal clear and very vivid, giving the picture a lot of depth. The detail is picture perfect in every scene that is true to its source material. Close-ups reveal very fine minute textures and individual hairs on the actors' faces. You can see individual beads of sweat, scars, and wrinkles very nicely. In the wider shots, the landscapes come across beautiful and very real.

The costume details also look spectacular, which reveal fine stitching and dirt on each costume. The colors seem to pop off screen consistently with excellent reds, blues, and browns throughout. The darker lit scenes looks very natural as well with no problems to report. The black levels always run deep and inky and the skin tones come across very natural. There were no issues with banding, aliasing or video noise either. This video presentation is top notch.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

This release comes with an excellent lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and is just as good as the above mentioned video presentation. This is a fully immersive audio mix and will put you in the center of everything that is happening. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. The smallest whispers to the loud yelling all sound perfectly balanced. The sound effects are robust and lively, especially with the train noises, the war planes flying overhead, and the tanks rolling in.

It almost makes you feel like you are there for a moment, as the weapons and vehicle sounds pour through the surround speakers with ferocity. There are some great ambient noises from the jungle and other soldiers and prisoners talking as well. The score sounds beautiful and always adds to the tone of the film, while never drowning out any dialogue or sound effects. Lastly, there is no evidence of any pops, cracks or hissing to speak of, giving this audio presentation great marks.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Audio Commentary - Director Jonathan Teplitzky and producer Andy Paterson sit down and discuss what it was like making 'The Railway Man'. They cover the casting, the location shoots, the real life story of the man this is based on, the costumes, and some fun anecdotes from the set. This is a very informative commentary track and the two seem to have a good time with a wealth of information to share about the history as well as the production of the movie. You'll want to give this a listen.

The Making of 'The Railway Man' (HD, 27 mins.) - Here is a great look at the making of the movie, as we see cast and crew interviews, as well as some on set footage. This bonus feature goes into the characters, the story, the real life people, the on-location shots, and much more. This extra is also worth looking at.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD exclusives. 

Final Thoughts

'The Railway Man' is an excellent film. Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard turn in terrific performances. It's a great war film that not so much looks at the actual war itself, but how a war changes a person over time. It's beautiful yet difficult to watch in certain moments, but it surely will evoke some powerful emotions. The video and audio presentations are both amazing, and while there are only two extras, they both cover a lot of ground. 'The Railway Man' deserves to be seen, because it is such an incredible story and an amazing film. Highly Recommended.

Technical Specs

  • 50GB Blu-ray Disc+Digital Copy

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/TBA

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.40:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1


  • English, Spanish


  • Audio Commentary
  • Making-of featurette

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