Unstoppable (M)

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Review byMatthew Turner25/11/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 98 mins

Solidly directed, enjoyable action thriller with a decent script and strong performances from the two leads, though it's also entirely predictable from beginning to end.

What's it all about?
Unstoppable marks the fifth collaboration between Tony Scott and Denzel Washington and their second train-based movie in as many years, following 2009's The Taking of Pelham 123. Washington plays veteran train driver Frank Barnes, who's assigned to work with rookie conductor Will Colson (Chris Pine) on the same day that a pair of idiots (Ethan Suplee and TJ Miller) accidentally let a mile-and-a-half long freight train slip away from them, going at full speed and loaded with toxic and explosive chemicals.

As the foxy station manager (Rosario Dawson) and the ass-covering company boss (Kevin Dunn) argue over how best to solve their problem, Frank and Will (whose own train is on a collision course with the runaway behemoth) realise that it's up to them to stop the train before it reaches a dangerous curve in a highly populated area.

The Good
Washington and Pine are both excellent, generating a sparky onscreen chemistry and creating convincing, well-rounded characters with what could easily have felt like cheap disaster movie clich├ęs - Frank's been given his notice, Will's estranged from his wife (Jessy Schram) and child, etc. Similarly, the script's slavish attention to the real-life story the film is apparently based on even extends to, um, Frank's teenage daughters (Elizabeth Mathis and Meagan Tandy) watching the story on TV from their waitressing jobs at Hooters.

Tony Scott is very much a safe pair of hands when it comes to this sort of thing and he duly delivers the goods, maintaining a decent pace and piling on the tension before unleashing the predictably exciting set-pieces. He is a little stingy with the explosions though, considering the train is loaded with things that go BOOM!

The Bad
The only real problem with the film is that it's very much an action movie-by-numbers, in that there are no surprises and the moment every scene starts you know exactly how it will end; it's fair to say that basing the film on a true story doesn't really do it any favours. There's also a ridiculous moment involving a train-load of kids that feels like a massive cop-out, especially if you've seen the trailer.

Worth seeing?
Despite the blatant lie in the title, Unstoppable is an enjoyable, straight-down-the-line action movie, enlivened by strong performances and an above average script. Worth seeing.

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Unstoppable (M)
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Content updated: 19/01/2020 20:53

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