Movie review by Neil Sadler
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Ethan Suplee
Director: Tony Scott
I admit I went into this film with a bit of trepidation. This is a film about a runaway train directed by the less well-known of the Scott brothers and starring Captain Kirk (the new one)
However I left the film elated, moved and entertained and this is despite some pretty corny dialogue in places.
Based on True Events, UNSTOPPABLE tells the story of a freight train that due to mostly human stupidity (in the form of MY NAME IS EARL’S Ethan Suplee – typecast!) runs amok through Pennsylvania. It is also the story of the two brave engineers who fight to stop the train before it can cause a toxic explosion in the large town it is speeding towards.
There are clichés aplenty near the beginning of the film. We have family issues for both men as well as employment issues and jealousy. We also have a train full of young school kids in peril, which proved to be quite funny – unintentionally I am sure.
But as the train gathers speed so does the film and what could have been a pedestrian plot suddenly becomes both gripping and genuinely affecting.
A lot of this is down to the sheer class of Denzil Washington. This is the fifth film he has made with Tony Scott and the relationship obviously suits them well. For Scott, Denzil Washington is a sure pair of hands, effortlessly conveying intelligence, bravery and heart, which is no mean feat when he isn’t given many great lines to work with. And it would be wrong to dismiss Chris Pine as a pretty face to encourage a female audience for the film. He was a solid lead in STAR TREK but was somewhat swamped by the effects. Here he proves he can both act and do action. He should be destined for great things on the strength of this film.
Tony Scott shoots with the same muted colours of his last few films and carries on with his love of soft and out of focus shots, but it works well here to convey the muted autumnal colours of Pennsylvania and its industrial towns. And he shoots the action very well. By eschewing too much CGI there is a crunching visceral quality to all the effects. This is helped by a soundtrack that often deafens you but manages to surround you in the action in a way few 3D films do.
Although it is a far from perfect film, UNSTOPPABLE manages to be that rare beast, big, noisy and brash and yet also managing to have a very human story and characters that you truly care about.
To compare it to another famous story about a train, it is the little film that could!