Tony Scott’s new film, “Unstoppable,” is one of those right-here-right-now, race-against- the-clock action/thrillers. There’s some central event happening, like a hostage taking or in this case, a runaway train. Then there are different groups of people all over the place communicating with one another, trying to solve the problem.
These types of premises make for somewhat entertaining movies but not memorable classics. You see it once (in theaters) and enjoy it but later on you forget you’ve ever seen it. “Unstoppable” is a fun ride but it’s not going to hold up.
The movie takes place all over Pennsylvania. Chris Pine from “Star Trek” plays Will, a young naïve train conductor. It’s his first day on the job and he is paired up with veteran engineer Paul (Denzel Washington). Paul knows the ropes and doesn’t take too kindly to Will at first, especially since he’s being forced into retirement. As a result, the two end up bickering throughout most of the movie.
As far as acting went there weren’t any surprises. Washington gave his usual wise, tough, caring performance you see in all his movies. Pine played the typical know-it-all rookie. It was a huge step down from playing Captain Kirk.
The two think it’s going to be a typical day. That is until they find out that a massive unmanned train loaded with toxic cargo is speeding through residential areas, stopping anything in its path. Together, along with the train station manager and the train company execs, Paul and Will must try to fight this seemingly unstoppable train. But who is director Scott kidding? We know the train is stoppable, but that’s not what the movie is about.
The main problem with “Unstoppable” was lack of character development. It was so rushed; They had all these character but there was no time to establish them. So when tragic things happened (such as people dying), you didn’t care.
Paul and Will did have some backstory, but like much of the movie it was textbook. Paul is a widower with two daughters whom he can’t quite connect with. Will has a wife and son, but because of a restraining order he’s now allowed to see them. And only a really big crisis, like a runaway train, can bring the two families back together. Shocker, huh?
The directing by Scott was very fast paced and extravagant, full of explosions, crashes, fast moving vehicles, sparks flying, objects flying, bodies flying. On the one hand this makes for an exciting thrill ride. And I got to give props to Scott for not converting it into 3d.
On the other hand, it sort of felt like Scott was trying too hard. I don’t think the camera ever stood still for more than two seconds, even when there were close ups of the actors. It was like Scott was on a sugar high the whole time. After a while the constant quick cutting and moving cameras became a little too overwhelming. Especially in a scene when a smaller train attempts to stop the runaway one by pulling in front, while a helicopter flies above carrying a marine who is trying to get on the train. That’s when I kind of wanted them to stop the ride and let me get off.