Home Entertainment Film & TV

Cinemas - Film of the Week, 25/11/10: Unstoppable, starring Denzel Washington


FOR every Elephant Man, there is a Pretty Woman; for every Magnificent Seven, there is a Fantastic Four.

Cinema warmly embraces great art and great entertainment, because without the box office allure of trashy popcorn fodder there simply wouldn’t be money in the kitty for amateurs to express their creativity.

For more than 20 years, British director Tony Scott has unapologetically catered for the tastes of audiences who hunger for slam-bang thrills.

And he’s certainly delivered – with high-octane vehicles including Days Of Thunder, The Last Boy Scout and Enemy Of The State.

During that time, Scott has collaborated four times with Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington on Crimson Tide, Man On Fire, Deja Vu and most recently on the remake of The Taking Of Pelham 123.

The pair reunite for Unstoppable – a cinematic rush of blood to the head inspired by true events, which follows the exploits of two brave men to stop a runaway locomotive before it derails, potentially killing thousands of innocent civilians.

From the moment the train chugs away from its hapless driver, the film steadily gathers momentum, careening through the set pieces, which invariably involve something being smashed to smithereens.

Think Speed on two rails, scripted by Mark Bomback, who penned Die Hard 4.0.

In a Pennsylvania rail yard, Dewey (Ethan Suplee) foolishly jumps off a slow moving freight train in order to race ahead and change a set of points.

Unfortunately, the throttle jars forward and the carriages speed down the line without a driver... or any air brakes.

More worrying, the locomotive includes drums of a highly flammable liquid.

“We’re talking about a missile the length of the Chrysler Building,” warns yardmaster Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson), who clears the entire line to prevent a head-on collision while her boss Michael Galvin (Kevin Dunn) concocts a plan of action to minimise the loss of life.

Further down the line, veteran engineer Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) and conductor Will Colson (Chris Pine) learn of the impending disaster.

With little thought to their own safety, the two men orchestrate a daring rescue plan to slow down the runaway train before it reaches the notorious Stanton curve, where it will inevitably derail.

Unstoppable is a breathlessly orchestrated thrill ride that spends the minimum amount of time fleshing out Frank and Will as flawed fathers, before contriving a nightmarish scenario for both men to redeem themselves in the eyes of their children.

Washington and Pine are an appealing double act and Dawson is suitably feisty, mocking Dewey for complaining that the train got away from him with the put-down, “It’s a train, not a chipmunk”.

The clatter of locomotives over tracks provides composer Harry Gregson-Williams with a natural tempo for his bombastic orchestrations.

All aboard for brainless fun.