Notable Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Ethan Suplee, T.J. Miller, Kevin Corrigan
Review: Ah, Denzel, is there any part you cannot play? I have to admit, I was going to skip this disaster piece until it was met with some pretty decent critical acclaim. Recent commercials present the Speed-esque Unstoppable as one of the best reviewed action films in years, but don’t be fooled by this proclamation. It’s still just a movie about a runaway train. A very well done one, but still that simple. Don’t expect edge of your seat adrenaline pumping action, but instead a well written drama about the folly of human error and the consequences many can face by one careless decision. Tony Scott and Denzel Washington form a winning combination yet again as “Unstoppable” tells the true story of how two courageous men stopped possibly one of the most catastrophic events in Pennsylvania history.
Will Colson (Pine) arrives for his first day of work as a conductor and meets the engine driver whom happens to be years older than him, Frank Barnes (Washington). It’s your typical rookie hot-shot versus the experienced seasoned veteran syndrome. While out making their first run of the day, back at Fuller station some mistakes are made. Local worker Dewey (Suplee) decides to move one of the trains without attaching the air brakes, and then when he notices the rail switch hasn’t been thrown, jumps out of the train to run ahead of it against the suggestion of his partner. He idled the train, but forgot the throttle was a full power because of the weight of the train’s cargo. This means that the idle throws itself off and the train starts gaining speed too quickly for Dewey to hop back on. There is now an unmanned train heading straight on the main line with no possible way of stopping it. But here’s the kicker. There are about 8 cars of hazardous flammable material that could cause a disaster of massive proportions. Will and Frank happen to be on the same line, and have the train coming right for them. After narrowly avoiding it, Frank decides no other option the railroad company proposed will work except for Frank catching up and attaching his train to the end of the “coaster,” then gunning it in reverse. Will is reluctant to join at first, but after learning it could destroy the town in which his wife and child live, decides that the consequences are too dire not to try. It’s a battle between an unmanned train and Denzel Washington, with Chris Pine offering his support.
Right off the bat, I’m so happy the whole evil train threatening the lives of numerous innocent school children plot was ended rather early. In all the trailers, it looked like a bulk of the tension was going to come out of the fact that a “coaster” was hurdling towards some students stuck on a train heading the opposite direction. That was one of my main concerns. How many times can the whole “innocents in harms” way angle be used? Denzel and Pine were going to have a hard enough time preventing towns from not exploding, why add in the schoolchildren? But they weren’t thankfully. That situation was nothing but a mere speed bump for the Pennsylvania train company responsible for an unmanned missile waiting to be tipped over.
The real recognition here has to go to Denzel, proving once again he is one of the most talented performers in Hollywood. Only one man can take such mundane and normal characters, and portray them in an absolutely memorable way every time. Frank Barnes is just your average run of the mill single father, struggling to keep positive relationships with his daughters. Yet, with Denzel’s charm and raw emotion, Frank Barnes becomes a beloved hero and symbol of the working class, proving not only himself, but men like him all over the world are worth their weight in gold. All that just because Denzel Washington takes over the role. Never will he be accused of over acting. There is no Denzel Washington when he graces the screen. Only the character brought to life by such a genius actor. Had this movie lacked Denzel as Frank, it would have lost one of its tremendous upsides, and the character would have fell into a forgettable category with every other similar character to date. You can’t compare any of Denzel’s characters like that. He always stands out somehow, and will always bring credibility to a film most other actors can’t achieve. Chris Pine I can take or leave, having a character suffering from the reverse effect of Denzel. Any young hot-shot kid could have played his part and delivered the same performance. Thankfully, he had Denzel to play off of and his energy to feed from. Not only can Denzel impress on-screen, but he also makes anyone around him infinitely better. That is the mark of a truly gifted actor.
What Unstoppable lacks in action, it makes up in drama and tension. Bullets won’t be flying, fights won’t break out, and there will be no high-speed chases (minus trains that look like they are movie tremendously slower than they really are). Just some unadulterated train on train action. That said, it was still a spectacular film that was being billed under false pretenses. There were action elements, but a bulk of the movie had to do with the dramatic elements. Will Denzel and Chris be able to stop the train in time? Will the school children be smashed into a million pieces? Will the railroad company lose millions of dollars? All are found out eventually, only while chugging down those fateful tracks. Unstoppable was a clear success. Scott told the story of real events in an entertaining and enjoyable way, able to keep your attention the entire film. Don’t get roped into thinking you’re in for a thrill ride though, because your expectations will be severely let down.
Final Rating: 8 more reasons people are incompetent morons out of 10