Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Movie Review: Unstoppable

Unstoppable is inspired by the true events of a 2001 runaway train incident in Ohio, where locomotive CSX 8888, nicknamed “Crazy Eights” wandered unmanned through 66 miles of pristine Ohio countryside before it was slowed, and then stopped. The incident ended without injury or derailment, and it’s most dangerous freight, molten phenol, was safe and sound.

In Unstoppable, the runaway train Engine 777 (nicknamed “Triple 7”) begins its murderous rampage desperate bid for freedom when a lazy train yard worker commits several acts of criminal negligence, which has his Triple 7 ambling out of the train yard unmanned and at full throttle. I’m no expert, and maybe jumping out of a slow moving train to pull a switch is common in the locomotive industry, but I’ve been through enough petroleum industry safety orientations for that opening scene to practically give me an aneurysm.

Sharing the same rail with Triple 7 is an excursion train full of children on a field trip and a passenger car full of nuns a freight train crewed by rookie conductor Will Colson (Chris Pine) and veteran engineer Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington). Can they make it to another track before a head on collision with Triple 7? Hey if new Captain Kirk can’t, then nobody can.

Unstoppable occupies a very comfortable middle ground of action movies, where the danger is real enough to build tension, but grounded enough that we don’t start rolling our eyes. A runaway train, you say? I guess that could happen. You don’t need to suspend your disbelief or turn off your brain to enjoy the story.

Chris Pine and Denzel Washington play off each other with ease, and a great supporting cast rounds off this enjoyable action flick. A runaway train is sort of an allegory for modern movies. You know exactly where it’s heading and how long it will take to get there, but what makes it interesting is the people on board and what happens when it finally reaches its destination. Unstoppable won’t surprise you, but it’s an enjoyable ride from start to finish.

1 comment:

  1. Well, it certainly sounds better than "Snakes on a Train".