By: Garrett Collins
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, and Kevin Dunn
Even though I happen to find the previous four collaborations between director Tony Scott and star Denzel Washington entertaining enough films, I wasn’t really looking forward to this one. After all, it is another one of those ‘inspired by true events’ stories that really has no relevance to anything going on in my side of the country. And, with this being a Scott directed film, I knew that there were going to be liberties taken with the real events anyway. However, after the previews showed the dynamic and presence of Washington and Pine, I started to take more of a notice. And then, with one of the nicest and geekiest (I know cause I met her & saw her speak at Comic Con about her comic book collection and comics that she has in fact written) gal in Hollywood Rosario Dawson, I knew that this film had all the potential to be entertaining fare. And, truth be told, that is exactly what I got.
Washington is one of those actors that looks just as believable in a business suit as he does in a reflective vest. And, here, he plays grunt train engineer Frank, who spends the majority of his time in that vest and getting ready to retire. He also seems to be a loving father, even if he occasionally has a hard time remembering his daughter’s birthday. On the other hand, Pine, playing the character of Will, comes in as the new conductor in town and is scoffed at by the old timers in the company on his first day. Once he is teamed with Washington, it develops from the typical antagonistic relationship on their first introduction, and I really wasn’t into these characters and their fate together much early on, as I have seen it in film after film of its type. Even their tales of Will’s on the rocks marriage and Frank’s daughters who work at Hooters really didn’t do much to endear me to them. However, once Will makes the first on the job mistake (while talking to his lawyer on the phone), it developed into a relationship that I myself have also been a part of. It was a relationship of respect, and by the time they are on the trail of the speeding unmanned train, you really have no choice but to root for them. Even though Pine is good enough as the character of Will, Washington once again shows why he is so endearing and his movies always end up grossing at least their budgets’ worth. The man has once again gotten his hands on a role where you find yourself rooting for him and, as always, plays it well.
Speaking of that train, in the hands of a lesser director, the story would have no bearing on the emotions that Scott develops here. However, his decision to use the least amount of CGI possible really helps on this story, and I respect the way he pulls it off. His tendency to use shaky camera shots and kinetic action really comes into play here, and for this particular story of a train gone mad, serves a good purpose. He even sets up the old adage of kids being in the face of danger. And the action, from a guy getting lowered from a helicopter to a very well staged derailing (again, no CGI) is awesome to say the least. He also sets up the scenery of being on these tracks beautifully, with all the windows having a grimy and dirty tint to them.
Even Dawson comes into her own here, and spouts off a few good one liners (it’s a train, not a chipmunk) while she was at it. In her character of Connie, Dawson shows some range and you really root for her character to come out on top of her game of cat and mouse with Dunn’s character of Oscar. Overall, Unstoppable ended up being a highly enjoyable (if slightly out of control) ride that even had its gripping and tense moments spread throughout. Sure, there are plenty of irrelevant characters that I really didn’t care about. But, you can do way worse than to pick up this fast ride on a slow night. Trust me..with this film showing on your TV, things will pick up fast.
3.5 out of 5