Movie Review: Breakheart Pass (1975)

Synopsis: A Secret Service agent goes undercover as an arsonist/murderer and allows himself to be captured so he can secure passage on a government train. The train is supposed to be delivering fresh troops, medicine and supplies to a frontier outpost that is reportedly suffering from a diphtheria outbreak. However, when one of the passengers, a doctor, is found murdered and other passengers either disappear or die in suspicious accidents, it becomes apparent there is some sort of conspiracy on board the train. It is up to the agent to figure out who is behind it and who he can trust.

Who's in it? The movie stars Charles Bronson, Ben Johnson, Jill Ireland, Ed Lauter and Richard Crenna.

Review: I came across this film on one of our movie channels several days ago and, mostly because it had been a while since I watched a Charles Bronson film, I decided to record what I thought had the potential to be a good western/mystery. I finally had a chance to watch the movie yesterday afternoon and, after seeing it, have to say it exceeded my expectations.

Even though the movie makes an effort to make you believe Bronson's character, Deakin, is a wanted outlaw, it's pretty obvious, almost from the beginning, that he's not who he claims to be. And, the filmmakers also reveal, relatively early on, the train is heading toward a trap.

Despite that, however, the film still manages to have a halfway decent mystery. There's obviously a killer on board the train. And, as the body count continues to rise, making it clear there may be accomplices involved, it creates some additional suspense because it is hard to determine who Deakin is able to trust.

There's also quite a bit of action mixed in as well, especially as Deakin gets further into his investigation and gets closer to discovering the truth. Since there may be multiple people involved, it was hard to tell who may pull a knife or gun at him at any moment.

I think the only thing I found perplexing about this film was why the bad guys let him walk around the train pretty much unsupervised. My first though was maybe they knew his secret. But, if that were the case, I would think they would simply kill him. And, there wasn't any effort to recruit him. Considering they originally had him tied up when they brought him on board the train, you would think, at minimum, they would try to lock him up somewhere or (as was originally threatened) left him on the side of the tracks in the middle of the wilderness.

Granted, it's not really that big of a deal. But, it was one of those things that made his job look a little too easy at times. Fortunately, it's a good enough movie overall to make up for that.

My Grade: B


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