Unstoppable is multi layered story where main events focus on small locomotive engine (steered by two unselfish, dedicated hard working Americans) trying to stop a big locomotive engine – kind of David and Goliath narrative – but also about personal challenges in family lives, and last not least stepping up against economy driven decision making.
Based loosely on true story of unmanned CSX Transportation locomotive pulling dangerous cargo freight train that went rolling uncontrolled, the movie takes place on tracks in the state of Pennsylvania, where two average and hard working Americans, Frank and Will, accept the challenge of avoiding disaster, realizing this brave adventure may not have happy ending to their own well being.
It becomes clear from the very beginning of the movie that storyline as well characters are conventional and predictable. This applies both to minor figures of yard workers – you know, “the fat”, “the lazy”, “the arrogant” – to main persons who have their hearts and minds in “right place”. Whether we look at Frank (played by Denzel Washington) – experienced and well respected engineer who’s life time job at the Company is threatened by employer’s budget cuts, or Will (Chris Pine) – young locomotive conductor, hot-tempered and in trouble due to custody case over his son with his wife.
Or Connie (Rosario Dawson) – pretty, reasonable and straightforward female yardmaster in male-dominant train traffic world, who is ready to risk her job by disregarding protocol and disobeying direct orders from her boss Galvin (Kevin Dunn). And last not least a real scene stealer Ned (Lew Temple) – a lead welder wearing leather vest, a railway cowboy who is ready to take the task to stop unstoppable with a real brawl, walking the thin line of becoming his own parody, almost! They are all Good, Just, and Upright. We even get glimpses of private struggles both Frank and Will fight – both not to lose contact to their children. They are also somehow avoiding the collision between the “big bad train” and coach full of prattling pupils.
So you know the story, you recognize the characters, you guess the punch lines. Not much left to surprise. Only hesitation that occasionally emerges is the question will Frank sacrifice his life to save town full of innocent people and by thus become the Real Hero in the eyes of his daughters?
Director Tony Scott’s visual language is captivating, his variety of landscapes with big machines of thousands of horsepower shearing through, is hair rising. But be aware – the level of entertainment is in direct correlation with the size of a screen for viewing. Bigger is better – it leaves less capacity to pay attention to small matter, such as miraculously changing fauna, where trees are green in one scene, becoming yellow in the other, and naked in yet another! This leaves one to wonder what is going on…?! No worries, there is perfectly acceptable explanation to it – as often the case also this movie was shot over several months of autumn.
All in all acceptable action movie that average movie going person will remember as “something with trains” in few years.
“1 million tons of steel. 100,000 people at risk. 100 minutes to impact.”
Enjoy the ride!
By Kerttu Lohmus
Specs: 98 min. Sub titles: DK, SE, NO, FI, EN. Released in Denmark: March 22 2011. Distribution by SF movie, who also hold the copyright of pics used in this review.