Unstoppable

Unstoppable

Directed by: Tony Scott
Cast: Denzel Washinton, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson
Running Time: 1 hr 38 mins
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: November 12, 2010

PLOT: Inspired by true events, a Pennsylvania train engine becomes a runaway. And now it’s up to an old train engineer (Washington) and his trainee (Pine) to stop it or else!

WHO’S IT FOR? The action is sometimes intense, and certain people will be content staring at Washington and Pine.

EXPECTATIONS: Speed on a train? You mean Under Siege 2? I like Washington, who doesn’t? And Pine is hit (Star Trek) and miss (Bottle Shock).

SCORECARD (0-10)

ACTORS:

Denzel Washington as Frank Barnes: Washington falls in to this character pretty easily. There’s nothing new here for him. His hardcore fan base won’t see anything wrong with that. Washington is 55 years old now and it seems he will always have a place as the crafty veteran. Frank has one foot out the door but he’s still the best train conductor South Pennsylvania has ever seen. The proof is that he knows everything. Everything.
Score: 6

Chris Pine as Will Colson: He’s got a great presence. Instead of the swagger that he pulled off so well in Star Trek as James T. Kirk, now he’s full of annoyed arrogance. “Get off my back, man,” could be his mantra. The reason to make this character an ass is beyond me. And no, I’m not just talking about how he acts toward Washington, I’m talking about the way he shows his family love. Besides all of that, this guy is alright in my book.
Score: 5

Lew Temple as Ned: Ned’s name could also be replaced with “Country Boy.” This is because Unstoppable doesn’t attempt to create a real character, they just put this guy in a big truck, give him a cowboy hat, and play a song called “Country Boy” (I think). Yup, that’s how much work is put into crafting some of these side characters. Also, in a real situation, wouldn’t there be about 10 Ned’s trying to figure out how to help? Or would they all be watching on the news like the guys in this movie?
Score: 4

Rosario Dawson as Connie Hooper: Close your eyes and picture a woman who looks like a “Connie Hooper.” I assume you didn’t come up with someone who looks like Dawson. She’s in charge, taking what feels like the Billy Bob Thornton role in Armageddon. Most importantly, she needs to figure out who she should kiss first! That’s not me being sexist. It’s apparently what a woman in charge does in this film.
Score: 4

TALKING: Cliché driven. That sums up the majority of the dialogue. Plus, cell phones are used a lot in this film. Look, I like to be on my phone, but I don’t like watching you on yours. Why would I want to watch this in a movie? And if you’d like an example of a line, “In training you get an F, out here you get killed.”
Score: 4

SIGHTS: The location shots look good and I assume I am in Pennsylvania. A map for the audience would probably have helped a lot though as they constantly give out locations and I have no idea the actual distance or travel time involved. The wide shots or when the training is whooshing by give you an intense feeling, but great Scott (the director), we need to talk. There is absolute overkill on the spinning camera. Every time Frank and Connie have a back and forth talk it’s a spinning camera. It’s way too much.
Score: 5

SOUNDS: From the very beginning they try to make the train a character. It sounds like a beast, huffing and puffing. Then, once we get into the action it’s heavy electric guitar. This only helps to give up every bit of realism.
Score: 4

PLOT SPOILERS

BEST SCENE: When the film focuses on the action and the two men, the film works. Unfortunately it just rarely does.

ENDING: The title is Unstoppable so obviously the train never stops. It’s probably still going as we speak. I mean, a movie wouldn’t lie to us, would it?

QUESTIONS: Inspired by true events. Really? REALLY?

REWATCHABILITY: No thanks. I won’t chase it away if it’s on TV, but that’s really not saying much. I have enough entertainment to find something else to watch.

OVERALL

Inspired by true events. Isn’t everything in some way? Look, I get it. It’s a bad day. A runaway train keeps increasing in speed. The big business wants to cut costs and run. Horses and children are practically hanging out on the tracks waiting to get hit. No one will listen to the smart people. It seems THE MAN and the train wants everyone dead. To top it off, Will has a restraining order and Frank’s hot daughters work at Hooters.

Inspired by true events but nothing feels real. I finally figured out why. I wasn’t watching Speed on a train. I was watching Armageddon on a train. I’m not saying the events couldn’t happen, but they way they were captured was anything but real.

The media is used to death in this film. So now, we are spending time watching people watch the event. We follow the news reports (tiny rant … none of the graphics created by the TV stations would have been ready in time and the news helicopters flew WAY too close). If you don’t watch local news at home, why would you want to watch fake local news in a movie? Following news reports and watching a group of people in Hooters cheer for our heroes doesn’t put us in the action. It removes us.

Here’s what works … Pine and Washington hanging out and the action. Every time Unstoppable goes away from that, this movie becomes very stoppable.

FINAL SCORE: 5/10

5 Comments

  1. jack says:

    pretty much agreed

  2. Rich says:

    THANK YOU! This is a horribly-executed film. I can’t believe it got 85% fresh on RT. You’re right, the fake media coverage just kills the tension in the movie. It’s all really an insult to anyone’s intelligence. Too much flash for this type of story. It takes place in rural Pennsylvania – why is it laced with hip-hop music and guitar riffs? A capable action director would have made this a HUGE hit. It really has a lot of good things going for it, unfortunately Tony Scott just wastes them all. Don’t even rent this POS.

  3. amy cotler says:

    TI too found the fake news aspect insulting. Just show it, rather than giving us a second hand TV account. If I want to watch TV news rather than really following the action, I will. (But I won’t.And frankly, seeing Fox nNws appear repeatedly as a trusted source really took me away from the movie. Ugh.) Good acting and fine directing but, as ever, let’s get a writer on board please.

  4. jack says:

    amy is absolutely wrong. Fox news is about the only news i watch, as it is great fair coverage

  5. Tony says:

    Great review, none of the RT reviews seem to have noticed any of this somehow?? I was suitably entertained but everything you said was true, especially the news reports. You might have went overboard with describing them, but there really were that many.

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