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Unstoppable

Movie directed by Tony Scott

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Terror Train

  • Nov 20, 2010
Rating:
+4
Tony Scott's "Unstoppable" is a nail biting, heart pounding, relentlessly exciting film. It takes most of the reliable hallmarks of the action picture - death defying stunts, crashes, explosions - and strips them to the bare essentials. There's no posturing, no big muscles and machine guns, no pompous dialogue, no padding of any kind. There's only a raw, primal adrenaline rush. The result is a film so taut and gripping that you're liable to lose the feeling in your hands from clenching the armrests on your theater's chair. It winds itself up at the start and keeps on winding until the spring is ready to break loose; at the end of it all, when the tension is finally released, you will breathe a sigh of relief ... and then want to experience it all over again. It's kind of like riding a roller coaster.

This film represents a purer, healthier attitude towards the action film. It's great entertainment, yes, but it also has both a brain and a heart at work. Rather than assault us with bursts of noise and flashes of light, we're pushed into a genuinely frightening scenario and dragged along with nothing but the hope that it will somehow turn out all right. We're actually made to feel something. Better still, we're made to care about the characters, who aren't disposable war-mongering typecasts but ordinary people thrust into an extraordinary situation. If convention dictates that the key players will become heroes, at least I can take comfort in knowing that this time around, they actually earn that distinction. And no, I don't care that the film is in all likelihood a gross exaggeration of real life events - I wanted to be thrilled, and thrilled I was.

"Unstoppable" stars Denzel Washington and Chris Pine as a pair of railroad workers. The former is Frank Barnes, a long time engineer for the Allegheny and West Virginia Railroad. The latter is Will Colson, a rookie conductor. They hit it off like oil and water, Frank and his co-workers believing that Will was hired strictly because of family connections to the union. Despite their differences, they're assigned to work a locomotive together. Frank makes it clear, perhaps a little too strenuously, that Will should ask about something if he doesn't know what to do. Will's personal problems continuously distract him throughout the day; he takes calls he shouldn't be taking, and eventually, he attaches their locomotive to too many trains. Things just don't seem to be going well.

And it will only get worse. At another station, a lazy hostler (Ethan Suplee) fails to connect an air hose on a train that's scheduled to be moved, preventing the air brakes from working. He doesn't think this will be a problem; he'll simply hook them up after parking the train on another track. Unfortunately, the switch up ahead is not set for the right track, and when he jumps off the main engine to fix it - a highly frowned upon maneuver - the improperly set throttle shifts on its own, speeding up the train to the point that he can no longer get back on. Not only is the train unmanned, it's now on the coasting faster and faster along mainline. Will and Frank are also on the mainline. And they're going in the opposite direction.

Keeping tabs on the escalating situation is yardmaster Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson), who quickly learns that the some of the tanks on the runaway train are carrying a highly hazardous material. She and a number of other dispatchers work tirelessly to get all opposing traffic onto sidings, and this includes a train full of children on a field trip. They begin rallying the state police in the hopes that they can secure guard crossings in various cities. Connie also has to fight an uphill battle with her superior, Oscar Galvin (Kevin Dunn), a corporate typecast unwilling to entertain her idea of derailing the train in lightly populated farmland. Derailing the train would cost the company millions of dollars, and as we all know, money is more important than safety.

I will now refrain from going into detail, since that would ruin the suspense. I will only say that Frank and Will get wind of the situation and decide to stop the runaway train on their own. I will also say that, from here, the film becomes increasingly nerve wracking. Many action movies are about as predictable as a Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland backyard musical; with "Unstoppable," there's no telling where it might go. The uncertainty, the sheer anticipation, is so palpable that you may lose your breath from gasping so much.

Action films made as well as "Unstoppable" have to be treasured, for they show that some filmmakers want to do more than merely exhilarate the audience; they also want to prove that even films about runaway trains can be smart, stylish, and powerful. Watching this film, it's obvious that serious thought went into the plot and the characters. Serious thought must have gone into casting as well, for everyone involved lends believable, engaging performances. Rosario Dawson in particular is especially good, giving her character just the right balance of professional backbone and personal concern. But most of the credit must be given to Mark Bomback for his convincing screenplay, Chris Lebenzon and Robert Duffy for their editing, and everyone who contributed to stunt work, special effects, and sound. They remembered what an action film is supposed to be.

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November 22, 2010
Yup. we are on the same boat on this one. Nice review!
 
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More Unstoppable (2010 movie) reviews
review by . November 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Tony Scott Delivers A Total Popcorn Thrill Ride!
Tony Scott and Denzel Washington together have given us some hits and misses throughout their careers. Well, didn’t the two create another train movie called “Pelham 1 2 3” very recently? I guess that means the two are in familiar ground. Tony Scott’s train movie “Unstoppable” has been inspired by true events that occurred in 2001 called the “Crazy Eights” unmanned train incident that happened in Finlay, Ohio. Yes, the film is pretty simple and quite …
review by . March 07, 2011
posted in MovieSucktastic
Tony Scott has watched too much MTV in his life. There's a massively over-used camera shot which I'm sure he created but you see it everywhere now - the video is sped up, slow-motioned, given a contrast flash, and then sped up again. It was innovative for the first 100 times but has become his editing trick of choice for everything from the "establishing scene shot" to "we need another 3 seconds of film here and we already paid the music guys".      …
review by . November 13, 2010
Normally, I can barely tolerate Tony Scott's frantic, even frenzied, directing style. He's all about fast cuts, swooping angles and cursory character development. He's often a bit like Michael Bay, with at least with a better visual sense. His films often indicate changes in time or mood through a change in color saturation. You CANNOT see one of his films and not constantly be reminded that you're watching a movie. Films like MAN ON FIRE and TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3 give me a headache.    UNSTOPP …
review by . August 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
This film was so simple yet it was entertaining and tense and best of all it seemed to stress family, loyalty, honor, all without bad language and violence that seem to accompany most thrillers these days. A train engineer accidently leaves a train in gear with nobody in the cab. That train gets away from him and accidently engages itself in a fast gear.    When Rosario Dawson (the train company's traffic coordinator) gets called, she realizes that she has a problem on her hands …
review by . April 04, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****     It looks like Tony Scott is getting creative. Here, the brother of the even-more-well-known Ridley Scott has made a film that is all fun, all craft, and lastly, all thrills. Out of all the thrillers to be released in 2010 ("Piranha 3D", "Salt", to name a few), "Unstoppable" is one of the best. It's a no-hold thrill-ride that knows where it's going, and has a handle on what it's doing. It's a film directed by Tony Scott, for crying out loud. That is, perhaps, …
review by . November 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Anti-climax!
I had high hopes as far as Denzel Washington is concerned. However, this is not that movie.            Unstoppable is action packed, high speed and I may have even enjoyed it thoroughly. BUT, and that's a big But, it lacks that special touch, the wow factor and to be fair to everyone (me inclusive) concerned, it's anti-climax! Still, not forgetting that this is a movie inspired by a true event, dramatic portrayal of a pending disaster is not in the …
review by . November 28, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
There aren't a great deal of thrillers out there that I can say keep me on the edge of my seat or that make me wonder just how things will turn out.  So for Tony Scott's Unstoppable to do so was quite a surprise to me.  As I watched I actually found myself genuinely drawn into the situation at hand.  Unstoppable isn't brainy but it isn't exactly stupid either.  It's a well made film in spite of some of its smaller flaws.      Unstoppable …
Quick Tip by . June 12, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Caption
I finally got to see this one a couple weeks ago; I really liked the action in it, though I thought the characters were rather boring; even Denzel Washington.  I sat on the edge of my seat throughout much of it, yet when it was over this flick was completely "forgettable".
review by . December 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      Unstoppable is about a veteran engineer (Frank/Denzel Washington) and a young conductor (Will/Chris Pine) who race against time to prevent a railroad catastrophe. They have to stop a moving train at full speed that carries a cargo full of chemical products, so they engage in a pursuit to catch the train from the back and accelerate in the opposite direction in order for the train to slow down. This is a story based on real facts so we already know the process and the result …
review by . November 15, 2010
Tis the season for Oscar bait, and with that comes added depth to the movies coming out this season. Unstoppable doesn't contain a single extra layer. You know exactly what you're getting. A train you can't stop dangerous chemicals on the tracks, headed towards a small blue collar town, with a train full of children coming in the opposite direction. We're one horse and a sweet mustache away from a Dudley-do-right cartoon. Cue the woman tied to the tracks.      …
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Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #2
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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Wiki

Unstoppable is a 2010 American action thriller film directed by Tony Scott, written by Mark Bomback and starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine. The film tells the story of a runaway train, and the two men (Washington and Pine) who attempt to stop it. The film was released in the United States and Canada on November 12, 2010.

Plot
After panning across some idling diesel locomotives under the opening credits, the film begins with scenes at two rail yards in different regions of Pennsylvania run by the Allegheny and West Virginia Railroad (AWVR). In the Fuller yard in northern Pennsylvania, children arrive for a school field trip on rail safety. Meanwhile, in the southern Pennsylvania town of Stanton, Will Colson (Chris Pine) gets up for work, stopping to surreptitiously watch his wife put their son on the school bus. He calls her but she refuses to even answer.

Arriving at work, Colson, a conductor, gets his orders for the day and learns he will be working with engineer Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington), with whom he has never worked before. He goes to a group of older workers, with whom he has some barbed words over their age differences, and finds Barnes among them. While he goes to punch in, the other older workers complain about being displaced by Colson, who they say got his job through family connections in the union.

Meanwhile, in Fuller, the yardmaster yells at a pair of hostlers who have been standing idle near a train to get it moved so the schoolchildren's ...
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Details

Director: Tony Scott
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: Nov. 12, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 98 minutes
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