The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Unstoppable

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Unstoppable

Working from an effective screenplay by Mark Bomback, director Tony Scott’s latest film ‘Unstoppable’ is the best dramatic action thriller so far this year as we near the end of 2010. Just minutes into the film, it starts to live up to its title, delivering an almost “unstoppable”, nail biting, adrenaline pumping, thrill ride that will keep you on the edge of our seat up to the very end.

Denzel Washington (who has worked with Scott on Crimson Tide, Man on Fire, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Deja Vu) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) co-star in this story of a runaway train loosely based on a real life event that took place in Toledo, Ohio in 200l. Washington plays Frank Barnes, a 28-year veteran engineer and widowed father of two teenage daughters, who isn’t happy to be teamed up with Will Colson, a rookie conductor (Star Trek’s Chris Pines) on his first day of work. Frank has reason to believe Will got the job as a result of family connections and is one of the young bloods hired to replace older workers like himself that are being forced into retirement. Needless to say there is immediate tension between the two, who are also trying to deal with their own set of family problems, as their shift begins.

Meanwhile on another end of the rail yard, a possible catastrophe is set into motion after a bumbling railroad employee (Ethan Suplee, of TVs My Name is Earl) leaves the cab of his locomotive to throw a switch and neglects to set the air brakes. By the time he realizes his mistake it is too late to get back on. With the throttle set on full power, AWVR locomotive 777 (ironically, the train with the lucky numbers is nicknamed “The Beast”) carrying several cars full of toxic chemicals takes off, gradually picking up speed to over 70 miles per hour, racing through rural Pennsylvania, and headed for populated areas with no one inside to stop it. At one point there is a near miss, head on collision with another train carrying a class of schoolchildren.

The situation is so serious that back at the control center, freight yard operations manager Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson) emphasizes, “We're not just talking about a train, but a missile the size of the Chrysler Building” that could wipe out a city. Adding flame to the fire, Connie is forced to butt heads with the corporate bigwig (Kevin Dunn) who only thinks in terms of financial ramifications and not the loss of lives, when it comes to implementing a way to stop the impending disaster.

When several attempts to stop the train fail, Frank and Will, who are on the same track as the speeding train, decide it is up them to intervene by traveling in a separate locomotive in reverse at 70 m.p.r. and hooking it up to “The Beast” from behind. Putting their personal issues aside, Frank and Will realize in the face of imminent danger they have to work together for a common cause, and in a race against time, are willing to risk their lives to prevent what could amount to the biggest railroad disaster in the history of the Northeast.

As the suspense builds, the great overhead helicopter camera work captures amazing chase scenes and extraordinary acts of courage performed by two ordinary men who exemplify the real meaning of hero.

In the same vein as the high-octane thriller, Speed, ‘Unstoppable’ is a gripping roller coaster ride guaranteed to take your breath away. For a few hours of relentless cinematic, escapist entertainment, I recommend getting on board.