"Denzel Washington and 'Unstoppable' are unashamedly fun." – Movie Review

“Unstoppable” is the classic mousetrap thriller. Set up, execution and payoff are so swift and efficient that it is nearly impossible to find fault. Director Tony Scott nails every element of “Unstoppable” from the relentless trouble of the train to the casting of mega-star Denzel Washington and up and comer Chris Pine to the elegant, low tech action finale. It’s not Shakespeare but as clapboard thrillers go, “Unstoppable” is pretty awesome.

In Western Pennsylvania Will (Chris Pine) is sleeping on his brother’s couch after a mistake separates him from his wife and child via restraining order. On the bright side, he has a brand new union job as a train conductor. It’s his first day and all he has to do is watch while a veteran Frank (Denzel Washington) shows him the ropes.

Meanwhile, in a train yard on the opposite end of the line a perfect storm of mistakes is unfolding. A dopey yard employee, Dewey (Ethan Suplee), was only supposed to move a train out of the way, a seemingly simple task, one that he’s done before. This time however, Dewey does absolutely everything wrong.

Having forgotten to switch tracks, Dewey jumps off the moving locomotive to hit the switch. While he’s doing this, the train kicks into high gear and takes off without a driver. Now, there is an 80 mile per hour unmanned missile rolling down the tracks. Along the same track is a train filled with kids on a field trip as well as Will and Frank.

I almost forgot to mention that the train cars are filled with toxic chemicals likely to explode if ignited say in a crash. Oh, and there is this giant curve in the track that is not all that far from Will’s wife’s apartment, a curve that an unmanned train going close to 80 MPH will not make. The only solution will involve Will and Frank having to tie their train to the out of control train and drag it to a stop, all at high speed.

If that doesn’t sound like fun to you then clearly you don’t like high adrenaline thrills. “Unstoppable” is a movie for thrill junkies who like big jolting action scenes, loud explosions where stuff ‘blows up good,’ and Denzel Washington in action hero mode. How do you not love this? What kind of person are you?

“Unstoppable” is one of the most unashamedly fun action movies to come along since the last time Denzel Washington teamed with director Tony Scott on the Subway thriller “The Taking of Pelham 123.” Where that film took its fun from John Travolta’s ham-tastic bad guy performance and Denzel’s ferocious everyman charisma, “Unstoppable’s” ham is the train and the way director Tony Scott treats it more like some snarling, escaped animal than as a train.

You may have seen in the trailer for “Unstoppable” a scene where police seem to be firing high powered weapons at the train. That was not an optical illusion; there really is a scene where police shoot at a moving train. There is some kind of explanation but the movie doesn’t linger on it. Rather, Tony Scott seems to enjoy the goofiness of this almost as much as we do.

“Unstoppable” is said to be loosely based on a true story but who cares. You aren’t seeing “Unstoppable” for some documentary recreation of events; you’re seeing “Unstoppable” for Denzel Washington and Captain Kirk battling a snarling beast that happens to be an out of control locomotive. Throw in the wild, over the top bombast of director Tony Scott with his swinging camera and bizarre color palette and you have a recipe for pure, adrenaline fueled fun.

Pardon my pull quote but “Unstoppable” is “Unstoppable” fun. Ha!


Sean Patrick Kernan is a film critic. Check him out at: http://www.myspace.com/number1ramjamfan Email Sean at sean@zoiksonline.com.
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