Train Ride

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Train Ride Movie Poster Image
Powerful, still-relevant drama about sexual assault.
  • R
  • 2000
  • 93 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Movie explores the consequences of three male college seniors sexually assaulting a female college freshman. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Three of the characters commit sexual assault and only one shows genuine remorse and contrition. Characters are peer-pressured into committing sexual assault. In the aftermath of the assault, the victim, with the exception of her two closest friends, is scorned and shamed by those around her. 

Violence

Three male college seniors sexually assault a female college freshman. One of the men drugs her drink, then films his two friends taking turns having sex with her while she's passed out in his bed. He then brags about having the act on video, and offers to show it to friends. Characters commit suicide, one by putting a gun to their head, the other by overdosing on pills. Characters shot and killed. 

Sex

Male characters obsessed with having sex, even if it means having sex with a woman who's passed out. Two men shown having sex with a passed-out woman; no nudity, close-ups of their faces. Frequent talk of sex, masturbation, sexual innuendo. During a game of "Truth or Dare" at a party, a woman sticks her hands down a man's pants and touches his penis. 

Language

Frequent profanity. "F--k," "motherf---er," and the "N" word used several times. "P---y," "s--t," "bulls--t," "damn." In one scene, the female who was assaulted shows up to class to find her desk defaced with a drawing of a VHS tape and the caption "Kinky Katrina, gimme that ass." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters binge-drink and smoke marijuana at a party. Male character spikes female character's glass of wine, causing her to pass out and have no exact memory of what transpired. Male characters shown to be extremely drunk as they either willingly participate or are peer-pressured into having sex with an unconscious woman. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Train Ride is a 2000 drama in which three male college seniors sexually assault a female college freshman who was passed out after her drink was spiked. As the title suggests, two male characters are shown having sex (no nudity) with an unconscious woman as it's being filmed by the man who drugged her. The movie explores the aftermath of the incident. The woman is scorned and shamed by her peers, including getting laughed at, taunted, and having obscene graffiti drawn on her desk. Frequent talk of sex, masturbation, and sexual innuendo. The three male perpetrators are shown to be extremely drunk after drinking excessively and smoking marijuana. Two of them are willing participants in the act, and one is peer-pressured into taking part. Frequent profanity, including "f--k," "motherf---er," and the "N" word. During a game of "Truth or Dare" at a party, a woman sticks her hands down the pants of a man, touching his penis. Sadly, years after the release of the movie, the story is still relevant, and affords, in light of the #MeToo movement, an opportunity for parents and older teens to discuss the importance of consent in all sexual relations. 

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What's the story?

In TRAIN RIDE, Katrina (MC Lyte) is a college freshman attending an African American university, eager to begin the next chapter of her life. Will (Wood Harris), Ellis (Russell Hornsby), and Ron are college seniors looking forward to one last year of college, parties, and meeting girls. Will, a charming womanizer, meets Katrina on campus, and invites her to a party at his apartment. Katrina arrives with her roommate and another friend from the dorms, and the six binge-drink, smoke marijuana, and play "Truth or Dare." When her friends leave, Katrina stays. While in Will's room, Will spikes Katrina's glass of wine, causing her to pass out. He then convinces Ron and Ellis to "run a train" on Katrina while he films it with his camera. The next day, Katrina has no clear recollection of what happened, but knows that she was date raped. As rumors swirl around campus that there's a video recording of the date rape, Katrina is scorned and shamed by gossip. As the rumors spread, Ron and Ellis, starting to grasp what they've done, break into Will's apartment to destroy the VHS tape. Meanwhile, Katrina has lost all interest in her studies, and doesn't want to leave her dorm room out of fear of further torment from her classmates. With nowhere to turn, Katrina makes a decision that will impact everyone involved. 

Is it any good?

Years after its initial release, Train Ride remains, sadly, all too relevant. Perhaps even more so, as the #MeToo movement continues to call attention to sexual assault and harassment, toxic masculinity, and society's inaction for far too long. The dialogue comes across as realistic, and the acting is excellent, even as it's noticeable that Wood Harris (best known as Avon Barksdale on The Wire) and MC Lyte are doing most of the heavy lifting. The movie's depictions of horrible male behavior and peer pressure show the devastating effects of poor judgment. 

It's a low-budget movie whose lack of funds seem to enhance the story rather than diminish. The direction is assured throughout, and gives the actors plenty of space to tell the story. The story delivers the message, and Train Ride never slips into the heavy-handed preachiness of an after-school special. For parents who came up in 90s and their kids who might be entering college, this movie is an opportunity to take stock in what has or hasn't changed in the years since its release, and how far we still have to go. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the continued relevance of Train Ride and its story. What, if anything, has changed in the years since the movie was released? 

  • What are the ways in which the student body and community address the incident? Did the behavior of Katrina's peers and friends seem realistic? Why or why not?

  • How was binge-drinking and marijuana smoking shown in the movie? How did it affect the behavior and judgment of the men who committed the assault?

Movie details

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