Review: Unstoppable (20th Century Fox)

Directed by Tony Scott
Starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine

Frank Barnes (Washington) is a veteran railroad engineer. Will Colson (Pine) is a rookie train conductor. And they’re paired together as Pine starts his first day of work. While cordial, tension between the two is thick. Barnes is clearly upset about the proliferation of younger employees taking jobs away from older workers with seniority. Making matters worse, Colson – while sure of his skills – starts the day making simple mistakes, spending company time on his cellphone and quickly losing Barnes’s trust.

However, they quickly put aside their issues when they hear about a runaway train, going full speed, threatening to spill its hazardous cargo.

Barnes makes a quick decision to go after the train to stop it, and Colson follows. And thus begins about 90 minutes of pure ruckus – although not much happens.
There are tons of under-the-train shots to build suspense as this out-of-control train continues on its path of destruction; there are some getting-to-know-you moments between Barnes and Colson as they try to track down the train; and there are brief and very confusing shots of Barnes’s daughters, both waitresses at Hooters, as they watch the news of the train unfold on television (I suppose Tony Scott needed to include some element of sex in this film. We’d be lost without, right?)

There really isn’t much for a full-length feature film. Yet, somehow, I was on the edge of my seat as I watched the predictable story unfold. I wanted to know how Barnes would pull off this feat (a testament to Washington’s acting) and if Colson would redeem himself (a nice role for Pine after starring in Star Trek).
And that’s the beauty of a movie like this one – it doesn’t try to be smart or appeal to critics – it simply lets human emotion take over for a brief vacation from the real world around us.