Unstoppable Directed by: Tony Scott Cast: Chris Pine, Denzel Washington, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Dunn Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: November 12, 2010
PLOT: An unmanned runaway train transporting toxic chemicals chugs ferociously along towards a heavily populated Pennsylvania suburb. It soon becomes the duty of a new duo of train conductors (Pine and Washington) to stop it at all costs.
WHO'S IT FOR? Unstoppable is a movie that simply wants to lay claim to its audience’s attention span for one-hundred minutes. This is for those who find great fulfillment of fun in a thrill-ride, however Hollywood it may appear.
EXPECTATIONS: It seems that trains have taken a backseat to planes and automobiles when it comes to disaster movies, and this certainly wasn’t proven wrong by Unstoppable's hammy trailer. The last time director Tony Scott played with trains, we had the dull The Taking of Pelham 123. With Denzel Washington back on Scott's side, and with the new kid from Star Trek (Chris Pine) on board, perhaps the trio could spin something out of this potential trainwreck of mediocrity.
Denzel Washington as Frank: This veteran knows what he’s doing, and seems to be going through the motions even when things are falling apart. This could be no more true Washington’s performance. It’s the same version of Denzel that has made him such a bonafide marquee name, and it’s just the way we like him. His wit is quick but quiet, and his smile is always there to deliver a sharp grin to lighten up whatever chaotic situation may be occurring. Score: 6
Chris Pine as Will: He's a likable all-American handsome young man who has respect for his elders, is wrongly made the villain by his girlfriend, and is a guy who sticks to his working class roots even though he comes from some privilege. Carefully concocted by the story to be an agreeable representation of the young workforce, Pine makes him all the more likable. Score: 5
Kevin Dunn and Rosario Dawson as Galvin and Connie: While roughnecks like Frank and Will are putting their Wrangler jeans lives on the line, these two are bickering over speaker phone about how the powers that be (the train company) should handle this situation. Dawson's character is given a little more color than Dunn's diabolical corporate toolbox, even though she is mostly used for dialogue that clearly spells out the situation ... a special gift for those who take bathroom breaks. Score: 4
TALKING: Despite it being a potential threat from the trailer, there are not many lines like “Run this b*tch down!” in the entire course of Unstoppable. Though none of its good dialogue is particularly memorable, there are a few laughs to be had with the sharp words of wisdom bellowed by Frank, whenever he tries to keep his whippersnapper co-worker in line. Score: 6
SIGHTS: The fun of Unstoppable is attributed to its spectacle-like nature, which creates elaborate actions scenes with its simultaneous usage of fast trains and swooping helicopters. Slightly distracting to this largeness is Scott’s consistent usage of the unnecessary quick zoom, which occurs near-consistently throughout the movie. A hefty amount of news footage is used to provide public perspective of the events, and also remind us of the strange nature we have with both film and news reports – deep inside, beyond our morals, we do want that damn train to become another disaster. Score: 7
SOUNDS: The massive locomotives used in the movie are given their beastly on-screen nature with the help of sufficient sound design. As the antagonistic machines speed through their quiet neighborhoods, they roar like monsters, all the more given them a menacing, intimidating feel. Score: 6
BEST SCENE: The climactic showdown of Will + Frank vs. Runaway Train is pretty enthralling, and a good temporary vacation from moaning about predictable storytelling. Like much of this movie, it's just fun.
ENDING: Just good ol' Ned, never meaning no harm!
QUESTIONS: Especially with this movie, the truth behind these events is something to ponder. Did much of this really happen? Or did some guy just let a train run down some test tracks automatically by accident once?
REWATCHABILITY: The replay value of Unstoppable is not immediate, but after some time has passed a second viewing on DVD/Blu-ray or even TV sounds like it would make for a fun passing of the time.
Fueled by an amicable duo of working class heroes, Unstoppable is an enjoyable ride, regardless of whether it's on a sometimes-unsurprising Hollywood track that claims to be a "true story." The action becomes a bit of its own spectacle, and the urgency of this strange but serious situation is never lost. Successfully completing the simple mission of being a fun popcorn flick, Unstoppable has some exciting action scenery - from another charming Denzel performance to a locomotive that obliterates everything in its path. Even if the territory for which it cruises is a bit simple, Unstoppable is the type of force that actually convinces its audience it might just fly off the tracks, taking that damn demon train with it.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10