I've lost count of the number of times I've seen this magnificent movie. There are numerous reasons:
1. A complicated but cohesive storyline with few or no loose ends at the finale.
2. The story is intense and exciting and never gets boring.
3. Likeable, empathetic characters. John really develops, and gets smarter, as the main character. After several viewings, I even started to feel a little sympathy for Butch!
4. Spectacular, breathtaking scenery.
5. The scenery is real, the trains are real, the sets are real, the humans are real, the stunts are real. Oh, how I love the fact that this movie was shot on location with actual sets! That just doesn't happen anymore!
6. I always have liked storylines with just a touch of fantasy and magic to them.
7. The jokes: the one-liners, the sight gags and the anachronisms. My personal favorite:
8. An unrequited love story.
9. Lots of male eye candy. As a female viewer, this is important!
10. The runaway train sequence at the end, with the best rendition of "The William Tell Overture" ever recorded.
11. There were things NOT included in this movie, for which I am very grateful because I have grown bored with them: lots of special effects, superheroes, sarcasm and irony, pop culture references, computer animation, all unlikeable and umempathetic characters.
That's my list. What is yours?