I cannot believe that this was inspired by a true story! It led me to wonder how many of these types of near disasters happen that we don’t hear about. Scary! Technology has improved greatly when it comes to rail transportation over the years, but there is still no defense for human sloppiness.
In a Pennsylvania rail yard some dopey workers let an unmanned train get loose and soon it and its highly toxic cargo are hurtling at high speed across the state. As it gets further and further along and keeps picking up speed any attempts to stop it become less and less likely.
After Connie (Rosario Dawson – Alexander, Sin City), the operations-room dispatcher, tries a few maneuvers that fail it becomes apparent to her and Galvin (Kevin Dunn – Transformers, Vicky Cristina Barcelona), the upper management big wig working on this with her, that the only chance to stop this traveling time bomb are two unsuspecting railroad employees, who are making a routine run nearby.
Will (Chris Pine – Just My Luck, Star Trek – 2009), a rookie conductor on his first day on the job, and veteran engineer, Frank (Denzel Washington – American Gangster, Training Day), have been assigned to work together. Frank has been riding the young guy pretty hard because he sees him as a newbie who hasn’t paid his dues and is looking to replace him. The tension between the two is so thick you could cut it with a knife.
When the two are apprised of the situation and that they will have to try a risky and dangerous maneuver they both agree to risk their lives in order to save thousands of others. A race against the clock begins.
Director Tony Scott is in a comfort zone as he has worked with Denzel (Man on Fire) with trains (The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3) and is an action film veteran (Spy Game, Enemy of the State, Crimson Tide). It shows in the film as you can almost feel his firm guiding hand. He just kind of lets the action flow at a breakneck pace just like that of the runaway train. It really lends to the heightening of the tension. The camera with it low angle shots and blurriness you get the sensation of the speed and heft of the mile long out of control train. You don’t feel like you can look away from the screen for a moment for fear of missing something.
A viewer friendly, adrenaline shot of a film is what you have here. All the elements are working together well. Human drama, a gaggle of unsuspecting school kids and some agitated animals bring the tension up even more. Denzel is his usual intense self, Chris Pine is believable as the everyman that he is supposed to be and the supporting cast, especially Rosario Dawson, is very competent. The plain and simple story is easy to follow.
Tension packed from the time the train gets loose until the resolution, Unstoppable is not a film with any kind of innovation to it, be it story or special effects, but it does keep you interested. This is like the film “Speed” only on railroad tracks.
-Tracking the Story: Unstoppable Script Development
-The Fastest Track: Unleashing Unstoppable
-Sneak Peeks of FX Trailer, Fox 75th Anniversary, Machete, and Casino Jack