January 2, 2011
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Tony Scott movies are hit and miss. His slapdash and jerky camera style can either build tension or reduce a movie to a motion sickness inducing attempt to feel urgent and failing. In Unstoppable though, he works.
Denzel Washington plays Frank Barnes, a railroad veteran, and Chris Pine plays Will Colson, the rookie. Looking past the obvious buddy cop pairing of the two, the movie is anything but. While they are moving cargo, a runaway train is heading towards a populated area. Stocked with 4 cars of highly combustible chemicals, the unmanned train has to be stopped before it derails or the chemicals explode, causing a massive disaster. Enter Frank and Will, who ignore orders and head after the train. Attempt after attempt fails, putting more pressure on Frank and Will to catch up to the train and bring it to a stop.
Now, despite sounding a bit simplistic in plot, don’t be fooled. Unstoppable is an extremely intense film where the tension starts quick and gets almost unbearable at its climax. Scott does an excellent job keeping the story fresh and letting the story paint the backstory of these men. Where many films explains the characters in the first five minutes, we instead learn of them and their circumstances as the movie unfolds. Pine and Washington understand this and commit to letting things come about like they would in reality, putting us in an environment that is relatable and in danger of beginning demolished by a runaway train. Very intense and great fun, 3.5 out of 5 stars