Armed men hijack a New York City subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day's work for dispatcher Walter Garber into a face-off with the mastermind behind the crime.
A runaway train carrying a cargo of toxic chemicals puts an engineer and his conductor in a race against time. They're chasing the runaway train in a separate locomotive and need to bring it under control before it derails on a curve and causes a toxic spill that will decimate a town. Written by
The film is inspired by the "Crazy Eights" unmanned train incident in 2001. The train, led by CSX Transportation SD40-2 #8888, left its Walbridge, Ohio, rail yard and began a 66-mile (106 km) journey through northwest Ohio with no one at the controls, after the engineer got out of the originally slow-moving train to correctly line a switch, mistakenly believing he had properly set the train's dynamic braking system, just as his counterpart in the movie did. Two of the real train's tank cars also contained thousands of gallons of molten phenol, similar to the fictional train in the film. See more »
As Frank is running along the top of the train near the end of the movie, we see Connie clutching her cellphone as she watches the news. However, when Ned arrives alongside the train, she picks up the phone to call him. He hangs up on her and she is then clutching the phone anxiously as she continues watching the news coverage. See more »
So, here we are. Tony Scott and Denzel Washington's latest collaboration is pretty much the definition of high concept - a runaway freight train loaded with thousands of gallons of diesel fuel, eight carriages of a highly toxic chemical and a worryingly curvy track ahead of it, versus two train operatives armed with little in the way of stopping impending disaster bar a one-car locomotive and their vivid imaginations.
It's not without its faults, but Unstoppable is a brisk, solidly entertaining thriller from start to finish. Scott has little time for characterisation or back story, preferring instead to kick things off via a pair of laughably incompetent rail yard employees roughly five minutes in, and then letting his leads fill in the blanks as we go along for the ride.
Washington and Star Trek's Chris Pine play it straight for the most part - their characters are the reluctant Johnny Everymen found in most films that rely on extended peril for thrills, and they've both nailed the mixture of brooding intensity and occasional comic relief that typifies movies of the genre.
Enough about the acting though - when you're watching a film of this nature, you want the action sequences to impress rather than worry too much about the story, and on this front Unstoppable delivers. Scott's track record in the field puts him in the perfect place to deliver the goods, and there's very little of the distracting, overdone camera-work that has plagued his recent output.
There's perhaps a little too much ShakyCam for my tastes but for the most part everything is shot with enough scope to be extremely impressive. The near total lack of CGI means the film looks suitably gritty and the pace is utterly, utterly relentless - there's no time to breathe here, just set-piece after set-piece with only brief conversational respites to quickly set up the next danger faced by our blue-collar heroes.
This type of film never goes down too well with critics and you can predict the reviews already - yes Unstoppable IS cheesy, it IS forced, it IS derivative and has all the depth of a puddle, but if you want to switch your brain off for 100 minutes and sit back for a magnificently enjoyable slice of escapism, you couldn't do much better. Highly recommended.
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