- 22 Nov 10
While film critics are obviously wild, crazy party animals (honestly, we are), we generally don’t give big reactions while reviewing movies because, I dunno, it’s not dignified or something. So when you’re reviewing in a theatre with a normal, noisy audience, you need to repress your desire to slip into librarian mode and shout “Shhh! I’m working here, stop laughing in my office! And I could also do without you two in the corner groping each other!”
So God help my professional reputation now. During Tony Scott’s wildly fun thriller Unstoppable, I not only gasped, laughed and squealed, but I repeatedly curled up in my seat and hid behind my knees. I promise to feel ashamed once the adrenalin rush wears off.
Veteran railroad engineer Frank (Denzel Washington), and arrogant rookie conductor, Will (Chris Pine) are working together for the first time, but have bigger problems than their personality clash. A huge unmanned freight train is hurtling down their track and could crash into the highly populated Pennsylvanian suburbs at any moment. Oh, and its cargo consists of highly combustible chemicals capable of eradicating everything in a 50 mile radius. Go figure. Don’t you just hate Mondays?
A film title has never been so accurate, as Scott wastes neither time nor dialogue in this propulsive action film that’s imbued with urgency from the start. Showing superb technical prowess, Scott’s masterful camera work and aerial shots keep the action moving and the tension high, while cutting to constant news updates not only adds to Unstoppable’s immediacy, but acts as smart little nod to our voyeuristic obsession with disaster. The script is economical, but still manages to be smart and funny, with yardmaster Connie (Rosario Dawson) communicating with the men from the railroad office, and helping them stick it to the cowardly corporate bigwigs as they embark on their high-speed rescue mission. The joy lies not in watching stereotypical heroes, but two ordinary, damaged and completely believable characters attempt something truly heroic.
Unstoppable may be a predictable, unsubtle and clichéd variation of Speed, but that doesn’t stop it being the most exhilarating thriller of the year. Strap yourselves in for one hell of a ride.