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It's a little easy and convenient to dismiss Unstoppable as nothing more than Speed on a train and more than a little unfair. Whilst they might share a huge dollop of DNA, they are different films trying to do different things. Speed was more of an action movie; Unstoppable aims for tension.
(Vaguely) based on true events, it tells the tale of an unmanned train that runs loose on a city's railway lines. Packed with dangerous chemicals, a massive disaster is looming unless train driver Frank and Conductor Will are able to chase down the rogue train and stop it.
Unstoppable's not without its faults: the frantic, kinetic directing style of Tony Scott can (as always) be a little much, there are a few too many disaster movie stereotypes (school kids in peril, a heroic but fruitless attempt to save the day by a minor character) and a couple of sub-plots that feel slightly artificial.
Yet none of these are sufficient to derail Unstoppable which proves to be a surprisingly solid and entertaining film. Scott does a good job of building the tension and doesn't allow this to dissipate by making too long a film. At a relatively lightweight 98 minutes, Unstoppable is well-paced; long enough to build the plot, characters and tension adequately, but no so long that it becomes dull.
Whilst you are never in any real doubt about the outcome, the film still has the ability to leave you on the edge of your seat. Director Tony Scott knows how to handle his material and creates a small series of peaks and troughs - moments of high tension interspersed with slower moments which aim to introduce an element of character development. All of this serves to ramp up the tension, so that by the end your nerves are rather fraught.
It's helped by a strong pairing in lead roles - Denzel Washington as train driver Frank and Chris Pine as Conductor, Will. Pine might sometimes come across as the new Chris O'Donnell (competent but bland) but he is a solid and dependable actor. Whilst his character is not exactly deep (and follows a fairly predictable arc) Pine fills the role in his usual, reliable way.
Denzel Washington, of course, is as good as ever. Washington is one of those actors whose mere presence can automatically add a star to any film's rating. Whilst it's perhaps a surprise to see Washington starring in an unashamed pop-corn muncher, it's not a bad thing. He makes Frank hugely likeable - spiky yet caring. Like Will, there might not be a lot of substance there, but Washington brings his usual easy charm and charisma to the role.
The film's secret weapon is the spark between Pine and Washington and the interaction between them. It might not be ground-breaking stuff (simmering hostility turning to grudging respect before being forged into genuine friendship), but it's a crucial element of the film. The two leads work well together, sparking off each other and producing a likeable double act. Without their likeable everyman personae, Unstoppable would have been a lot less engaging.
You could argue the film suffers from a few too many technicalities about trains and railways, with lots of jargon being thrown around in an attempt to make it sound authentic. None of this is crucial to the plot, however, and you can simply let it wash over you without worrying too much about it.
The other issue is Tony Scott's ever-exuberant directing style. Although it's toned down a little, he still prefers quick editing, jumpy camera work and all sorts of directing tricks. Whilst the frantic, energetic camerawork adds a sense of panic that underlies the films "race against time" theme, it can be a little too in-your-face at times If you suffer from motion sickness you might find some segments a little tricky to watch.
Unstoppable is little more than standard Hollywood fluff. Yet thanks to a strong director and some good central casting it manages to rise above its rather mundane and unoriginal premise. It's not essential viewing, but it is highly entertaining. Given that you can now pick the DVD up for around £3, there's really no reason not to own it.
Director: Tony Scott
Running time: approx. 98 minutes
© Copyright SWSt 2014
A huge freight train with dangerous chemicals on board goes runaway and there's another train full of children on the track and a highly populated city in its path. It's a race against time to avert disaster.
A railroad worker leaves his train to set some points but is unable to get back on leaving the train with no brakes and driverless while it powers its way through the countryside. It will come into the path of a train full of schoolchildren and most disturbingly could destroy a large part of a city.
The premise is of course very simple. Scott adds in some personal drams as Chris Pine's character is seen to have special treatment as his family is associated with the railway and he has problems with his other half.
The film is inspired by real life events that happened in Ohio, where a train became a runaway after the operator mistakenly believed he had set the brakes on.
Denzel Washington continues his collaboration with Tony Scott, and this is sadly his last. He is always very watchable and this is no exception. He plays a washed up but still great at his job train driver who is about to be made redundant.
Chris Pine, who I remember for his excellent portrayal of the young Captain Kirk in Star Trek is excellent as Will. A man with personal demons and lots to contend with in his personal and work lives. He gives a solid performance. I hope he still does smaller films now he has found fame.
Visuals and Sound
Tony Scott had really honed his art when can to thrillers like this and it certainly has the look of recent Scott films, such as De ja vu etc. He uses a less CGI than you'd expect in a film of this kind, or if he did it's very subtle.
The music is very energetic as you'd expect, standard action film stuff.
It's very sad that this is the last ever Tony Scott film, it's not his best ever film but it is unmistakably a Tony Scott film. I certainly enjoyed this a lot more than his remake of The Taking of Pelham 123. There are some unbelievably narrow escapes, but after all this is a film not a documentary.
The plot is thin but that is really what I expected in a film about a runaway train. Scott even manages to get in some corporate bad guys who value money over lives, a sadly all too familiar story in real life. It's hard to care about what happens to most of the characters as they're not fleshed out very much at all, but this film is all about the train and the adrenalin rush.
If you get a chance to see this on TV it is great weekend evening fodder. It's not up with Scott's best work which for me is "Crimson Tide" but it's very watchable and great entertainment. Goodbye Tony and thanks for the entertainment.
- Story -
In Pennsylvania, USA, a large freight train containing hazardous materials accidentally becomes driverless and picks up speed, heading towards a large town, so an engineer and a conductor have to hastily chase it down via another train in a bid to hook them together and bring it under control before it derails and causes a massive explosion, spreading poisonous gasses for miles with devastating consequences.
- Thoughts & Opinions -
Somewhat ironically for me, I felt this movie started too quickly with little character development and the action was too far and few between in the first half - the plot concept is about as basic as it comes, so don't expect too much from this. There are some seemingly perilous scenes involving arial shots of someone being winched onto the train and attempting to move between carriages from the roof, which is rather nail biting and it does 'hot up' from about half an hour or so in but I felt the movie suffers because it doesn't really show much about the locations the train is headed towards - a map/diagram highlighting the main towns in its path is shown but I thought that to humanise the populations in these areas would have helped add alot more tension, rather than talking about rough projected injury/impact figures.
Its rather cheesy at points with scenes involving children and a teacher in another train talking about what they've learnt about rail safety(!) and at other points with an emotional phonecall to a loved one, you get the idea. There's the fearless men willing to do whatever it takes to stop the train and the feisty young woman communicating with the men in the train who oversees the operation (her name is Connie, she's played competently enough by Rosario Dawson - ill mention more about the cast later on) and is rooting for them the whole time, she who 'won't take no you-know-what'.
There's plenty of adrenaline by the time the stories really taken off, it just felt a little inconsequential somehow... this is more of a mans movie I guess, in a way but eh, it just didn't quite 'hit the mark' for me - it started off rather slowly and it ended up a bit too cheesy and predictable, I guess - there are elements such as one of the men trying to stop the train having received a letter saying he was to be forced into early retirement with no benefits etc. Having said that, I'd imagine some people will quite enjoy watching the action scenes, there are some suitably tense moments and so I'd rate it overall as being satisfactory, as its rather average, not particularly good but not awful, as in without merits at all.
With this movie, the story is just about what you get - a train on the loose with a mad rush to try and stop it but thats it - I do feel like perhaps it could have been elaborated a bit to better effect somehow - highlighting more of the communities involved or something, though there were big crowds shown and alot of cable news footage is shown later on in the movie to keep us up to date on the trains location and so on. However, there are some pretty good action scenes and it does look quite realistic and it becomes even somewhat nail biting on occasion - I watch movie on a fairly small screen under 25" but I'd imagine this would look more impressive on a large screen, especially in HD, so it does have that going for it - its pretty fast paced and pretty watchable mid way through, if you don't mind the cheese and so on.
There's the usual muzak to try and create an air of tension during some scenes but nothing amazing. The performances were decent enough - I almost feel sorry for Ethan Suplee who plays Dewey, the unfortunate driver who accidentally lost control of the train, he's probably better known as starring in the US sitcom 'My Name is Earl' as a rather unintelligent friend of Earl - his characters aren't the most bright, it seems!. Cast wise there's also Denzel Washington, who's well known for his roles in action/drama movies such as Fallen and Deja Vu - he gives another decent, fairly solid performance in this movie but the script doesn't entirely allow him to shine entirely, I think, still there's nothing to complain about as such.
The ending was alright and overall it was average - there's one or two things going for it and one or two against it and thats about it, I think.
- Would I Recommend It? -
No, I don't think I would specifically recommend this movie. This isn't a very poor movie as such but its far from excellent, its thoroughly average really. The cast is decent and there are some close to nail biting scenes but its nothing particularly special and its a bit too cheesy for my taste, I reckon, so I'm not going to recommend this one, although it could still be entertaining if you want to sit back and watch a basic action movie and the story sounds like something you'd be interested in - I'd say give it a go if you noticed its going to be shown on TV or something like that, otherwise don't go out of your way to see it but that's just my opinion.
Thanks for reading my review, I hope you found it useful and thanks for all ratings and comments.
The combination of Tony Scott as director and Denzel Washington as lead actor is nothing new. They teamed up for four films prior to "Unstoppable", which have been generally very good films. However, for "Unstoppable", they have combined to bring us something new; this is possibly the first Denzel Washington film that I ever recall not enjoying.
In "Unstoppable", Will Colson is paired up with Frank Barnes to run a train delivering some carriages. There is immediately some friction, as some of the older workers like Barnes have been forced to take early retirement and are being replaced by people like Colson, who are cheaper to hire. Distracted by this and by a domestic situation involving his wife, Colson picks up too many carriages on the train.
This is not the only mishap to occur on the rails that day, however. In trying to move a train from one track to another, a guy called Dewey jumps off his train to change the points and trips before he can get back on. This allows the train to run down the track on its own at very high speeds into the path of oncoming train traffic. This oncoming traffic includes a train full of school children, Barnes and Colson's train and the track it's on could ultimately take the runaway train, which is carrying harmful chemicals, into a densely populated area.
The basic storyline has the potential to be an exciting one, with a train that could potentially cause a huge disaster. The film switches between the runaway train itself, the various attempts to get it stopped and the people in the office controlling everything that's going on. Add to this with the sub-plots of the building relationship between Barnes and Colson and Colson's own personal situation and the elements are here for the makeup of a very decent film indeed.
Somehow, though, it never quite makes it. Perhaps it's coming so soon after the remake of "The Taking of Pelham 123", which was also a combination between Tony Scott and Denzel Washington and a film I rather enjoyed, but I just didn't feel the tension was here. This lack of tension doesn't help, as it then strands the film in the mire of the action thriller genre when you know from the off that the outcome is barely in doubt. There simply isn't enough here, despite the character building, to elevate the film anywhere above the simply mundane.
It's hard to pin down exactly why the film didn't work for me. Individually, the elements that make up the film are generally pretty well done. The direction and script work well to try and keep the pace high, with frequent cuts between one scene and another; the train, Connie in the yard, the guys on various trains, the news feeds. Given that much of the film focuses on two guys sat in a train cab, or others sat in an office, this was important as there was plenty of potential for this to have been a very slow moving film. There are plenty of scenes set up to try and raise the tension, usually involving some kind of disaster caused by the runaway train. Unfortunately, all of these latter scenes felt to me as if they were staged deliberately to try and raise the tension, particularly one scene with an accident and the horses on a railway crossing, and without the suspension of disbelief that was required, especially as the film is supposedly based on a true story, the tension simply wasn't there.
The acting performances were pretty good as well, with all the main cast putting in a decent, if unspectacular effort. Denzel Washington as Frank Barnes and Chris Pine as Will Colson work well together. Their starting point of mutual suspicion, gently moving towards a mutual appreciation of each other and an easy comradeship, if not exactly friendship, is well done and in the hands of these two, reasonably believable, although they do perhaps move onto personal information a little more readily than most would. I particularly liked Rosario Dawson's performance as Gail, as she has played a number of very strong women and this is another of those, although in a totally different context to her performance in "Sin City", but her strength and determination came through nicely. The one area in which "Unstoppable" won out over "Pelham 123" was in Kevin Dunn's portrayal of Oscar Galvin, in which he melted down under the pressure far more effectively than James Gandolfini's mayor did in the latter.
The script wasn't too bad and this helped with the character building. Although the relationship between Barnes and Colson seemed to me to grow a little too quickly, they had some good lines between them. Some of the early lines allowed for some sniping between characters and later softened, to show the relationship become warmer between them and this worked rather well, I thought. In a well worked contrast, the relationship between Connie and Galvin never achieved this and their parts of the script were far more businesslike and abrupt. In what feels like a completely unrealistic situation for much of the film, the script at least allows the relationships between the people concerned to come across as reasonably realistic.
The special effects seemed quite effective, to my untrained eye. Admittedly, crashing and exploding a train isn't going to be one of the easiest things to portray on screen, but they achieve it and it seemed to look reasonably good to me. One particular effect with the train towards the end was entirely unbelievable, but even coming at it from that perspective, it looked pretty good on the screen. I may not have been able to shake the feeling that it required more suspension of disbelief than I was prepared to give it, but I couldn't see the joins at the edges of what must have been computer generated and what wasn't. The stunts which, again, usually involved people jumping onto and off of trains and accidents involving the train also looked fairly well done and I didn't notice any glaring errors during those scenes either.
The soundtrack wasn't particularly memorable, although in many cases, the sound of a train at high speed was allowed to speak for itself, which was perfect. Personally, I prefer a soundtrack that doesn't overpower the visuals enough to be memorable, so that's another area in which I felt the film was a success. Indeed, about the only part I can remember is what was played over the end credits, when the soundtrack is supposed to have its main moment. I can't claim to have been overly keen on the music played there as it's not a favoured genre of mine, but it did seem to be in keeping with some of the characters in the film.
All of the elements that went to making up the film seemed to be in place, but somehow the whole was less than the sum of its parts. It's a very well put together film and the basic idea should be gripping and thrilling. But for some reason I can't explain, it didn't have that effect on me. Perhaps it was just that the whole idea, despite supposedly being based on true events, seemed so farfetched that I was never entirely able to relax and enjoy the film. Maybe it was that the film came a little too soon after "The Taking of Pelham 123" and seemed to me to be inferior to the earlier film that unsettled me. For whatever reason, this is a film that wouldn't be too bad if you see it on a free to air basis, but I can't recommend spending money on it, even though it can be found for as little as 99 pence on eBay or £2.85 on the Amazon Marketplace, plus postage. It's a well crafted film, it just failed to excite me in any important way.
Star - Denzel Washington
Certificate - 12A
Run - Time - 98 minutes
Country - USA (2009)
Genre - Action
Rental - 99p@Blokbuster
Oscars - 1 nomination (sound)
As I have said before there are only two types of train films. The one where the train creaks and trundles along the wilderness for hundreds of miles where the main protagonists can wander around the train and jump on and off at their leisure and still get to the end of the film and the one where its full of terrorists or bad guys and the good guys not in control as it races towards the buffers, Unstoppable comfortably in the latter category. And the danger with this category is there is always too much machismo and cliché on display and so they can become rather naff and predictable. But the essential ingredients of the big heavy train trying to stay on the tracks when it gets too fast and the authorities trying to stop it always seems to work on the big screen. Can you name a bad train movie? See!
Unstoppable is the fifth collaboration between the always excellent Denzel Washington and the safe action movie hands of Tony Scott, he of Top Gun fame and brother of the great Ridley, train movie Pelham 123 their last outing together and the warm up act for this. All their previous films have been pretty good fun and so why not this one was my attitude. Scott is comfortably in the Michael Bay School of action flick territory and, like Bay, doesn't get the pat on the back he deserves for this type of mainstream stuff, all too easy for film snobs to ridicule films like this because of their simplicity, that ones most people like and the ones that pay for the smaller films the pretentious arty media types love so much to be made.
Unstoppable is based on the true story of the 'Crazy Eights', a real life incident where a cargo train ran driverless for 66 kilometers with a volatile cargo in tow amongst its half-mile of wagons grinding across Ohio. Rather aptly, during filming, a train nothing to do with the production, derailed on the very same siding the film crews were setting up their cameras for, a good omen as it turned out as this film did good money.
Denzel Washington ... Frank
Chris Pine ... Will
Rosario Dawson ... Connie
Ethan Suplee ... Dewey
Kevin Dunn ... Oscar Galvin
Kevin Corrigan ... Scott Werner
Kevin Chapman ... Bunny
Lew Temple ... Ned Oldham
T.J. Miller ... Gilleece
Jessy Schram ... Darcy
David Warshofsky ... Judd Stewart
It's Will Colson's (Chris 'Captain Kirk' Pine) first day of his new career, just completing his certification to be a conductor on the railways, his first job to co-drive a million tons of train across Pennsylvania. His driver is veteran West Virginia Rail man Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington), 27 year service and a man who knows the tracks, taking Colson under his wing to show him the ropes.
There's early tension between the two as a lot of older union guys are being cut for younger ones and Will hardly experienced at this level of job. These are huge trains and hard to control. But they get on as best they can with both men having things on their minds, Colson recently separated from his young wife (Jessy Schram) by a restraining order after hitting her boyfriend and so distracted by court proceedings, Barnes having two headstrong teenage daughters to deal with after his wife died nine months ago so always on the phone.
Their job today is to pick up some freight cars at Stanton, New jersey, Wills first mistake to load five too many, Frank only to keen to pull him up on the error. The kid is eager but needs to listen to the man who knows.
Elsewhere on the Pennsylvania rail track a fat train driver called Dewey (Ethan Suplee) has just made a deadly mistake. When asked to move his half mile long train off the tracks to allow another one to come through full of school kids on a day trip, he lazily jumps out of the engine and leaves it in gear so he can walk ahead and flip the points and hopefully jump back on the moving train. But he has hasn't left it in neutral, the dynamic braking system not activated, the train picking up speed as he races it to the points, getting there just in time to send the train in the right direction on the right track, but Dewey not on it, his fat ass unable to catch up and jump back in.
Train 777 is now a 'coaster', the control room contacted and watch manager Connie (Rosario Dawson) tasked with stopping it. They have had this type of incident before and have plans to stop it. Problem is the train is picking up speed and racing head on towards increasingly big towns and other trains and traffic on the line, including Frank and Will and the one full of kids on the return journey, the railway company throwing solutions around the like the blame, ones that may or may not work. The question now is just how do you stop a million ton train as it barrels towards Stanton City, sure to topple off a banked curve the train wont be bale to negotiate at high speed, spilling its 20,000 tons of highly toxic and flammable chemicals into the 760,000 population. This train is no longer a coaster but a runaway train!
I liked it, a stripped down but above average action thriller that takes a simple idea and makes it work for the widest possible audience, where Tony Scott excels. Put Denzel Washington in any film or script and it's a hit, for me the best Hollywood actor out there for selling a film. He can get away with pretty much anything with that dashing toothy grin and consummate control of the screen. I like this guy and watch all his movies.
But the film nearly didn't get made after Twentieth Century Fox asked Denzel to take a $4 million cut from his standard fee of $20 million. They also applied the same rule to director Tony Scott; asked to cut $3 million from his usual $9 million fee, citing frustration with the lack of a start date, clearly the two holding them to ransom. On hearing of this cut pressure Washington withdrew from the film. Fox then came up with a new plan and revised the script, clearly critical to this films appeal, getting the Washington Express back on track. It's interesting to learn the top film people have set rates and so the films budgets clearly set around them and how a movie can fall on that alone. The budget was eventually $100 million here and Scott and Denzel's star power pulled back $167 million from what is a fairly cliché action movie staple. But what it does prove is the big star and director can make pretty much anything work and so probably worth their fee.
It's a very physical movie and young buck Chris Pine performed all of his own stunts, perhaps trying to prove himself to Washington, which includes the standard running on the roof of the train shot. Denzel, on the other hand, had seven stuntmen doing his bit, the actor having a fear of heights, one for each day of the shoot on moving fast train days in case anything went wrong. There is one scene when he clearly is up on top and foes look terrified. You can only imagine the insurance costs here.
It's a taut action thriller that builds nicely with the speed of the trains and exciting throughout, that budget well spent as the actors keep the suspense up and the settings look great and not too forced, a rural authenticity as the steel grinds through Americas rust belt, even though you know exactly what's going to happen at the end. As Tony Scott is involved here there are some unneeded explosions and one too many helicopters buzzing around as distractions and the peripheral characters rather two-dimensional. Who ever remembers who Tom Cruise wingman was in Top Gun?
Pine is a little too handsome and cut for the co-star role and his back story didn't really work. But apart from that this is a real winner for such a simplistic action movie and highly recommended from the now cheap rack in Blockbusters, perhaps the type of film not flagged up by Blockbusters or Netflix once it's of the contrived new release charts. You also get to learn a bit about the railway and how the big trains work and that gives this the feel of reality throughout. This type of thing could and did happen and how would you stop a train like that without the company losing millions of dollars or towns and cities losing lots of lives? It's just gripping stuff from start to finish and although Scott resorts to cliché sometimes its one train wreck you won't want to look away from. Check out the trailer below and see what you think.
---------Film sites and books ratings-------
Imdb.com - 6.8/10.0 (57,811 votes)
Metacritc.com - 69% critics approval rating
Rottentomatos.com - 86% critic's approval rating
Leonard Maltin Film Year Book -3/4
Daily Telegraph - "Tony Scott has been applying hyper-colored flash to movies for three decades, but Unstoppable, his two-men-against-a-runaway-train logistical rollercoaster ride, is the first in some while where style and concept get on a treat.
The Times - "Thunderous, metallic, ominous, screeching sound effects add to the sensory perception that you're watching a megaton monster barreling toward a dramatic showdown"
The LA Times - "Pretty heavy on clichés, but the simple fact that the film's one giant popcorn-infused action sequence should please most action fans"
Movie Metropolis - "Washington has these films down to a science by now, and it's fun to watch a consummate professional do his thing.
CNN - "Unstoppable certainly is nail-biting -- if only for the furious editing, swooping cameras, crash zooms and thunderous soundtrack. It's a shame that it's impossible to escape the sense of autopilot that pervades.
Having heard great things about this (86% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes) as well as seeing the trailer which was exhilarating, I was quite disappointed to find myself bored during the film- and it stars Denzel Washington!! How?
The cover of the DVD features the two man show that this film is: Chris Pine and Denzel Washington. It's quite an exciting cover- the colour scheme works well for it and really brings out Chris Pine's eyes. Whilst it doesn't do much for Denzel Washington's appearance, he's already well known in this genre of film.
~~~THOUGHTS ON PLOT~~~
1,000,000 tons, 100,000 lives, 100 minutes is the punchline to the movie. A freight train carrying (I assume) 1,000,000 tons of cargo, 8 trains containing highly toxic and flammable chemicals (molten phenol), is unmanned, without air brakes and hurtling towards highly populated areas in Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, Veteran train driver Frank (Denzel Washington) is working with train conductor Will (Chris Pine) on his first day. Despite a rough start, they must trust each other in stopping the freight train and preventing it from causing a catastrophe after the government and train bosses' decisions to derail it fail.
The start was somewhat slow, though it does introduce the characters and give us a bit more background. It was really strange to me that as the freight train starts to hurtle out of control, the Frank/Will scenes were really boring and as it truncated the exciting train runaway, that annoyed me.
I was also somewhat confused as to what was going on with the pair. For a long time, the two story arcs didn't connect, but once they do, you finally realise what is going on and what they are trying to do, which took too long.
I also felt that the film was a bit dragged out. Great, we know you are trying to stop the train, but does it really take 10-20 minutes just to catch up with the train? This I was not here for. I know it's trying to be realistic but I was simply bored during this time. The constant reports for speed/distance is supposed to thrill and make it more exciting, but I was just waiting for them to just get to the action!!
And it feels like A LOT of the film was relaying speed/distance and really not much more in the script! I also thought the 'personal' trash talk between Frank and Will during a highly dangerous freight train chase, unbelievable and a bust for the excitement. They seem way too calm and in that way calmed us down after building it up.
That said, there were a few scenes that were exciting and were 'edge of seat' moments. Not many, but a few. And what I did like was the humorous one liners that were interspersed into the movie. It's not a Denzel Washington film without some sarcastic lines from him. In this way, this film keeps his style consistent and appealing to Washington fans.
The final action sequence was also somewhat exciting. However, the solution (I won't spoil and say what that is) seems a bit 'easy' and realistically, they could've just done that at the very beginning. Also, all this action just for a railway accident reduces the tension. I mean, I thought it was some evil villain's ploy to blow up the train. Had there been some antagonist (not just the train company bosses), the film would've been far more exciting in my opinion.
Denzel Washington- Frank
Chris Pine- Will
Rosario Dawson- Connie
Denzel Washington is fine as the character he always plays- the 'herioc' character with sarcasm to the side. I thought Chris Pine was just there; any actor could've played his role. This film was almost certain to boost his ratings/popularity and get him more screen time. The introductory nudity/underwear scene which was completely unnecessary was evidently there to get him more fans and raise his sex appeal. I did think that Rosario Dawson stood out at times during the movie, not always, but one or two scenes you really do cheer her on.
'Unstoppable' claims to be an exhilarating ride of a movie, and many seem to agree, but for me, the lack of an antagonist, the unbelievability of it all, the constant relaying of speed/distance opposed to any sort of action truly bored me. There are a few action scenes, one explosion and appropriately interspersed 'Washington' sarcasm, but that isn't enough to make this film shine out.
I'm sure many will like this, and you can make your own mind up about it, but of all the films of this type that exist, I was not impressed by 'Unstoppable'. Instead, I recommend seeking out 'Speed' a pure classic, or 'Source Code', an explosive psychological roller coaster of a film.
Since we took out our three month subscription to Sky Movies, the memory on our Sky + box is quickly filling up with films that we both want to see. There must be close to 20 films waiting for us on there and so I decided last night to at least watch one of them before we recorded anymore. My film of choice was the 2010 runaway train drama Unstoppable. As it stars Denzel Washington in one of the lead roles I knew I would pretty much enjoy it, but I had for some reason, been putting off actually watching it. Finally settling down last night I still wasn't exactly sure what to expect but went for it anyway.
On The Wrong Tracks
When an incompetent railroad worker jumps from the cab of a train to change a set of points the train slips from coast to full power and leaves the goods yard. Now unmanned and attached to petrol and chemical wagons it's hurtling through Pennsylvania with no way of stopping it. Coming in the other direction are new conductor Will Colson and his driver Frank. Having recently qualified Will is having a tough time at home and his more senior colleague Frank isn't making it easy on him, but when they come face to face with the runaway and narrowly get out of the way in time, they both agree they have to do something before this runaway bomb derails and kills thousands of people.
Scott and Denzel Together Again
It is perhaps not a bad thing but it would appear that Tony Scott can't make a film without Denzel Washington being in a lead role. The fact that Denzel has stared in 4 of his last 7 films perhaps highlights just how well the pair work together. In fact I've always enjoyed all of Scott's films I've seen and this one was no different. It builds slowly as we get to know the two lead characters, but the way Scott does this works really well. He cuts between the attempts to stop the runaway and the two new colleagues getting to know each other, which personalises them for the audience.
The action is really well directed, with unsuccessful attempts made to stop the train and some very impressive special effects used for these moments. In fact I really enjoyed the look and feel of the movie, the relationship between Will and Frank felt quite strained at first but as it developed it felt much better. The plot had its slower moments whilst the characters back stories were brought to life, but all in all it did keep a good pace and that is probably something to do with the fact it was penned by Die Hard 4 writer Mark Bomback.
Denzel Stars Again
I've got a theory that Denzel doesn't make bad films, he's had a few borderline movies like Déjà Vu but on the whole he normally makes the right choices for roles. This was the type of role that appears to have been written to his strengths and as usual he is very solid in the lead role. The relationship onscreen between Denzel and Chris Pine who plays Will Colson works really well. They start off with the dynamic of the older hand who can't stand the new generation and gives him grief but as the film develops so does the relationship.
This is the first film I've seen with Chris Pine and he was actually very well suited to the role of Colson. He looked natural opposite Denzel, which is important when opposite one of Hollywood's leading men and the onscreen appearances remind me of Denzel and Ethan Hawke in Training Day. I was also quite impressed with Rosario Dawson as the yard controller. Her performance was assured and whilst her role was quite restricted she did it well. In familiar roles Ethan Suplee was his usual bungling self as the yard operative who caused the incident and Kevin Dunn gave a good account of himself as the penny pinching, more concerned about profits than safety head of the rail company.
Better Than Expected
I still can't put my finger on why I'd been putting off watching Unstoppable, but I'm glad that I finally did. It was certainly better than I expected and towards the end, even had me sitting on the edge of my seat, which a film hasn't done for a long time. The action is well choreographed and the build-up is just about right. At 98 minutes long it's a perfect length to dip into without committing hours to a movie and the entertainment it delivers is more than worth it.It's certainly not the perfect movie but it does exactly what you expect and that is the most important thing. If you like Denzel or you're into trains then this is a very good movie, it has real suspense and didn't last any longer than it needed to.
Quite often, the success of a film is measured by whether it meets expectations or not. Unstoppable is billed as being a thriller, but gives the impression that it's going to be a middle of the road, average film. Therefore, once I got into the film and realised they were just getting right down to business without worrying about unnecessarily building up characters.
It's a disaster movie with a difference - a sense of reality about it without needing a geography qualification to understand the concept. Denzel Washington and Chris Pine play two train operators down on their luck who finds themselves on the tracks, hauling cargo and facing a runaway train at full speed without anyone controlling it. As the authorities and train company find themselves running out of solutions, our two heroes find themselves best placed to stop the bullet train.
It's a bit far fetched in places, but I think that you always need to take films like this with a pinch of salt. There were a few moments where I wondered why they didn't take easier more logical options, but on the whole any simple solutions were negated by the plot construction. What I liked about the film was that they didn't try to do too much with it, maintaining the simplicity and heroics of the film as the main focus, pitching the corporates of the train company as the 'villains', making you dislike them while the two heroes grow on you more and more.
The acting is pretty good, to be honest. You get traditional and typical from Denzel, while Chris Pine is pushing on the door of the A listers, showing why here as he follows in a similar style to Chris Evans and his recent jump to stardom and the best roles. There's strong support elsewhere, although the film largely focuses on these two. But really it's about presenting a smooth timeline of a potentially huge disaster, the added elements of a cargo of explosive chemicals and a corner that would derail the train in a densely populated town adding to the urgency.
Everything is well filmed, the experienced Tony Scott knowing exactly how to give us a good action film where we don't really have to concentrate too much for understanding or enjoyment. I'm glad I watched this film that on the face of it was not overly appealing - I had relatively low expectations, and although this is by no means a masterpiece, it's way better than some of the cheesy and cringeworthy disaster films of the 90s. I'd recommend watching this - it's entertaining and well done, even if it's nothing special.
This film doesn't aim at being anything other than an end to end action film which it achieves with some credability. However it leaves you wanting more....more substance, more depth to the storyline and characters.
The title pretty much says it all. There is an unstoppable train. The circumstances in which the train becomes unstoppable is slightly laughable but the storyline isn't the main aim of this film. I'm a huge fan of Denzel Washington and Chris Pine is a good actor but you finish watching the film wishing you'd seen more of them.
After narrowly missing the oncoming unmanned train (which is carrying plenty of toxic material to blow up a city) they then decide to chase after it in a bid to stop it crashing into their home city. One of the main statements within the theatrical trailer for this film is that the train is on a head on collision with a train full of school children. However, I feel that this was completely oveer looked in the film and much more could have been made of this scenario which would have provided a greater storyline, more tension and thrill for the audience.
The length of the film is just about right at 100 minutes. It keeps your attention throughout and it certainly feels good value for money. The action sequences are constructed and carried out with great effect and make sure you don't take your eyes off the screen.
If you expect more than just action then you may be left feeling disappointed, if you just expect action then you can expect a great film and a brilliant way to spend 100 minutes of your life.
== Unstoppable ==
The movie starts with scenes at two different rail yards in different regions of Pennsylvania run by the fictional Allegheny and West Virginia Railroad. In the fictional Fuller yard in northern Pennsylvania, kids show up for a school field trip on rail safety. Elsewhere, in the fictional south part of Pennsylvania in a town called Stanton, Will Colson (Chris Pine) gets up for work, stopping to secretly watch his wife put their son on the school bus as the pair are going through a rough patch and Will is banned from seeing their son. He calls her but she refuses to even answer the phone to him.
Arriving at work, Will is a conductor and he gets his orders for the day and learns that he will be working with an engineer named Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) and he hasn't worked for Frank before. He goes to a group of older workers where Frank is located to tell him that he is working with him today and Will has a little debate with one of the older workers. Now these older workers have something against the young guys because they feel they are being laid off so young talent is hired instead.
Basically further on in the movie Will and Frank don't get on too well at first but then disaster strikes when, at first thought was a coaster train was heading towards them but in actual fact it wasn't a coaster as the engineer for the train had failed to do his mission and was no longer on board. Will and Frank had to start getting along as this train was getting faster and a lot more dangerous with every second that passes. The train is also carrying some toxic chemicals and some dangerous stuff that can take out almost the whole of the town. Can these two normal guys save the town? Can they get on with each other and can Will make amends with his girlfriend. You need to watch to find out!
=== Did You Enjoy It? ===
All in all I thought this movie was a fantastic film. It had almost everything. Unstoppable will be unstoppable when it comes out on DVD and there are many reason why I enjoyed this movie here are a few of these reasons. The cast was absolutely great and they performed brilliantly. I was at cinema a while back with a friend of mine and the trailer for this came on and we both instantly said this looked amazing and we wasn't wrong. It doesn't sound to appealing about a speeding train that cant be stopped but it was really enjoyable. I loved the fact this movie had a great storyline even though I did get lost at one point but soon found my way back to it again. Also the special effects were pretty good as well, some nice explosions and some nice crashes that actually looked like real life like crashes. I enjoyed this as well because its not like your normal action type film its different and unique in its own way. Its the type of movie leaving you to think whats going to happen next and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. All in all I loved this movie and I wasn't at all surprised how much and how great it was.
=== Characters/Performances ===
The cast is a great cast in my opinion. Some people may criticize the cast but I actually think its the perfect cast for the movie. Denzel Washington is absolutely brilliant as always and I don't care what anyone says he is an amazing actor and has won many awards because of this and in Unstoppable he really is unstoppable. Chris Pine is an upcoming and rising actor and his performance in Unstoppable will have made him an even bigger star. He was great but the even better thing is Denzel Washington carried him and made him look even better. Most of the other cast members were also great but these two were clearly the stars of the movie and they've made this movie a hit. Chris Pine has been in many films and some of these include the 2009 hit Star Trek where he was absolutely amazing, he was also in Carriers which I have also reviewed and he was pretty good in that as well. Other movies include, Just My Luck, Bottle Shock and Smokin Aces. Now Denzel Washington is a great actor and has been round for many years, he was brilliant in this and has been in many more movies such as, American Gangsta, Training Day, Inside Man, Man On Fire, The Book Of Eli and many many more. My opinion of this cast was great!
=== The Director ===
The director of Unstoppable is a pretty great director named Tony Scott and he has directed some fantastic movies. He was born June 21st, 1944 in North Shields, Northumberland, England, UK. He seems to cast Denzel Washington in most of his movies but he is a great actor so I can understand that. He has directed many great films and some of these include, Taking Of Pelham 123, Domino, Man On Fire, Spy Game, Enemy Of The State plus loads more.
=== Other Bits ===
The special effects to Unstoppable were quite a surprise to me if I am being completely honest and a good surprise at that. I wasn't expecting this movie to have any but in all fact it had its fair share of them. The best being the train running through anything thats on its track, with some good smashing up of cars and stuff and some really nicely designed explosions. Also the soundtrack to unstoppable isn't great but its not too bad. I would say its mediocre and this was the movies only downfall but it doesn't effect the movie in the slightest. To be perfectly honest I was that hooked and glued on the movie I have forgotten what songs were used and where they was used. Guess the movie just dragged me in.
There are a few movies like this but this could well be the best one so far. I loved the Taking Of Pelham 123, I thought it was different and quite well designed and I also thought Travolta was marvelous in that. However this is slightly better than that because it made more sense and probably could happen. Also this movie reminded me of the Speed films even though they was in different vehicles. All in all a great all round film that can be liked by many different viewers. I would give this movie a solid and very respectable 8.5/10! I recommend you watch this!
The runtime for Unstoppable is roughly 100 minutes and the movie is Rated 12A for sequences of action and peril, and some language.
Review also on Ciao under username: MrBrightside1987
This was written back when the film was released. I have only had time now to post it so it might read a little out of date. First review in a while to post, I'm hoping to post a few more in the next few weeks. Thanks for reading.
As I now have a cinema literally a 5 minute walk away from me, I tend to go quite often, especially on Wednesday nights when I can split the price of a ticket with my flatmate. This week we went t see the film Unstoppable starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine and as my mate behind the desk at the Vue cinema said, it's going to be a good film as it's 2 hours of Denzel Washington.
I was not sure what to expect, but sat down in the very, very hot cinema for 2 hours of Denzel Washington.
Denzel Washington- Frank
Chris Pine- Will
Rosario Dawson- Connie
Kevin Dunn- Galvin
Unstoppable follows a runaway train which is carrying a cargo of toxic chemicals. The train is well over half a mile long, and the train company try everything in their power to stop this speeding unmanned train before it hits a track called the curve, where at the speed it's going, it will most definitely derail and decimate a whole town. It becomes down to two very brave men, an engineer (Washington) and a Conductor (Pine) who is on his first day, to stop the train from derailing. Can they do it in time?
The film is Directed by the fantastic Tony Scott who is behind films like Man On Fire, Top Gun and Enemy of the State, so before even watching it, you know this film is going to be a film where no expense is spared and it should take you on a fantastic thrill ride. I have to say I was expecting this film to be good and I was right, I really did enjoy it from the get go. It kept me on the edge of my seat throughout and I really did like the whole metaphor of these two men just being your ordinary men with no training in anything other than what their job is, and they decide to do something which needs a whole lot of courage in the face of danger.
It's not the first time Washington and Scott have worked together, as you can see from the list above, and they work again together again here fantastically well. Like I said at the beginning of the review, the reason why my mate who works at the cinema told me to watch this film, was because it was 2 hours of Denzel Washington and I do have to agree with him, this actor is just fantastic at what he does and I do think that any film he is in, he manages to deliver a fantastic performance.
The shocker for me in the film was Chris Pine, whom I had only seen in chick flicks like Just my Luck and Princess Diaries 2, I had have course seen him in Star Trek but in this film he really showed he can actually act, and work alongside the likes of Washington and still deliver an amazing performance. You really believe his story and he is great at the action scenes that he needs to do more near the end.
Rosario Dawson plays the train operator person and she is fantastic. Being quite a big RENT fan, as soon as she came on screen I immediately poked my friend and went Mimi, luckily she's probably the only person at the Uni who knows what the hell I'm on about. This is the only film I've seen her in other than Rent and thought she did such a fantastic job throughout.
I found the filming in the film to be fantastic, the angles used throughout really made you think you are watching this film from a standbyers point of view, throughout the film, Scott keeps the camera quite far back from the train and makes sure to show all the houses near the tracks. It is amazing how well it's filmed because I can't imagine they would have been able to do too many takes, as it would have just cost an abundant amount of money. There was just a little bit too much Hand-Held sort of feel to the camera work, which did get annoying, the first thing you'll notice as soon as the film begins is the fact that first shot of the train is really shaky and for me at that point there was no reason for it. Otherwise the rest of the camera work was very well done. The Direction was fantastic throughout, and I think this has to be one of my favourite Tony Scott films.
The action in the film is fantastic, my friend compared it to Speed and I do agree with it, however there is no sappy love story taking away from the action. The film is very predictable, there is no doubting it, however the action throughout keep you on your toes, and I was sitting up throughout. That being said, my mate was not that impressed with the film, she's still unsure of whether it was to do with the heat in the cinema not allowing her to pay too much attention or the fact that she doesn't like action films, but we came out both with different opinions.
If you like Tony Scott films and are bit of an action/suspense genre fan, then this is the film for you. It is 2 hours with Denzel Washington on top form and I'm sure the majority of you will love it.
(C) Kirsty 2010
We managed to catch an early viewing of this film at the cinema in town, and so on a Wednesday with a two-for-one deal the boyfriend and I got to see this film for just 5.95. Not a bad deal really. I'd seen the trailer a few times and had suggested it might be a nice film to see (although secretly I'm dying to see the latest Johnny Depp movie - for some reason boyfriend is less keen) and I do tend to like Denzel Washington films, so this was our choice.
If train-spotting's uncool, what about train-stopping?
When incompetent hostler, Dewey decides to risk going without air brakes on the train he is due to drive, then leaves his rolling freight train unmanned in order to manually switch the tracks and alter its direction, the train suddenly goes into power-mode and he cannot stop it in time. By the time it is discovered that the uncontrolled train is actually accelerating, not just rolling, it is already at a dangerous speed and with a highly explosive substance on board, must be stopped before it causes mass destruction.
Frank Barnes and the new conductor of a Brewster freight train, Will Colson, find themselves caught on a collision path with the train, and realising the seriousness of the situation, they have an idea to stop the train, but it would be risking their lives. Will they do it?
It's funny, because when you are watching the film, it really is a thrilling and suspenseful experience, and yet towards the end I did find myself thinking about it as an overall film. Did we really just watch a whole film just about one train speeding along a track? Well, I guess so, but they have managed to make this rather eventful, both in terms of action and the relationships between characters. I didn't feel that the trailer had given me the right impression of the film, as actually the questions that occurred to me from seeing that were all answered abruptly at the start. However, as the film develops you realise that there are more interesting events and obstacles to follow, so it is not so simplified. In fact, by the end I felt I'd learnt a lot about the train industry that I had no idea about before!
Thrown into the mix is a political power struggle between the ordinary worker that shows genuine compassion and concern for others, desperately trying to save lives, and the big boss who refuses to listen to those that know best and cannot see past the dollar signs. It might seem a little unrealistic that even someone at that level could behave so inhumanely, but actually I can imagine this happening, and it does on smaller scales, a lot on a day-to-day basis in the real world.
Then there's the narrators of the film, the Fox news channel, filming the entire episode and commentating throughout. Now, come on, let's be realistic. Firstly, most sensible news channels would never dream of broadcasting this sort of event live and at such a close range that the facial expressions of those involved can actually be seen clearly. Well, in this film, they really go to the extreme, showing more than journalists would, ethically and talking about the people as if they have no family and there would be no consequences. This aspect of the film probably would have spoilt it the most for me as I can be terrible for not reminding myself this is just a film and so was repeatedly remarking on how outrageous it was to be showing and describing the horrors unfolding to a daytime news audience. In fact at one point, a journalist even swore! On the other hand, it was a good cause for amusement, in a film that could otherwise be taken too seriously if it had perfect realism.
I'm generally keen on films with Denzel Washington, and here he is no disappointment. I'd have to admit his character is similar to other characters he has played, but less intense than, for example his Detective Creasy in Man on Fire, and of course without the alcohol/emotional problems faced by him. In this case he is generally a sensible well-grounded person, but no less cynical toward others and with his fair share of personal problems. I think Denzel plays these characters well because he has a natural look and tone of someone more complex. You won't feel like this is just another Denzel film, but it does have his touch.
Admittedly, Chris Pine is no Johnny Depp, but as Will, he was rather a handsome, boyish character that had an appeal of his own. He fits naturally into the role of the inexperienced new guy with something to prove, and despite his protests, you can tell that a little bit of authority will go straight to his head! The relationship between Will and Frank is interesting, but not really that original. It develops well, though and at least gives the film a more human side.
There is also the ongoing battle between Connie and Galvin, played by Rosario Dawson and Kevin Dunn respectively. Galvin is very hot-headed, but we are made well aware of his standing in the company hierarchy and I loved the challenge this set for Connie, Frank and Will. If you tend to be a supporter of the underdog, I think you will enjoy this film, even if it does start to seem a little far-fetched when human lives are at stake. Rosario Dawson was the more realistic of the two and gave a very impressive performance as Connie. Kevin Dunn's character seemed a tad overboard but was very well played nonetheless.
Connie's very helpful welder friend Ned, who drives a truck and is often seen trying to catch up with the train, is played by Lew Temple.He brings a fair bit of liveliness into the film when it starts to get a little too deep or intense. His character does play a fairly significant role, even if only supporting the others, and without him I think the film would have had something missing.
The graphics are truly stunning, although this was probably somewhat enhanced by the fact that we were watching it on the big screen. I particularly enjoyed the scene where the train struggles around a really sharp bend, while Frank and Will are struggling to control its speed and you can see how the carriages are barely holding onto the track. This really gets you on the egde of your seat, but you'll have to watch to find out what happens next! Most of the action scenes are reasonably distant, but as I say that naughty news crew do a lot of close-up filming and would surely get them into legal hot water in the real world, and via these scenes we get an original view of the action, which is unusual so I guess it is not always a bad thing to be a bit unrealistic.
The thundering sounds of the trains, even before they are out of control are actually quite intimidating when you are sat in the cinema, and I'd have to admit that this probably gave a lot more to the dramatic effect we experienced. When I try to consider how this film would be on an ordinary television, or even a fancy wide-screen with HD and all the trimmings plus surround sound, I doubt it will be as equally effective. The soundtrack has a nice variety, with urban and country sounds. The have taken some of the music from Alien vs Predator (according to IMDB - I would not have recognised it personally) but I don't think this is really a big deal and if it goes, it goes, so why not?
The classification here is spot on with 12A. The train scenes can be quite intense and there are crashes and explosions along the way, so it is fair to say that some parents may want to think about whether they are happy for younger children to see this film. It is not really aimed at the younger audience, but it is fairly mild in terms of action and violence. There's a bit of strong language, though not very memorable and generally swearing is kept minimal. The only other thing I found particularly distressing myself and would potentially affect young viewers or animal lovers is a scene involving two horses trapped in their horsebox on the train track. This scene is particularly intense.
I won't be in a hurry to see this film again, but that's not to say that I didn't enjoy it. It was not really as much of an epic film as I had expected, and so I'm not entirely sure it would have been worthwhile seeing in the cinema at any higher a price than we paid, yet I'd have to admit that the viewing experience in the big screen was better than can be expected at home. I would not bother to watch this on DVD and so will not be buying it. It is certainly worth seeing if it does come on telly, just as a good film, and if you are keen on Denzel Washington or action/train films, then it is a good one to rent too.