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Unstoppable Review

Joseph’s Rating: 10/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 8.5/10
(5 reviews total)

This is the best movie I’ve seen in a long time, it’s the best Tony Scott/Denzel Washington collaboration, and it’s the best movie Tony Scott’s ever made. I was literally biting my nails from the intensity of this smartly directed, fantastically shot, well-written, well-acted popcorn flick.

Will Colson (Chris Pine) is the new young conductor at railroad in small town, Pennsylvania. Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) is the engineer assigned to the same train. They get along decently, both are family men, but both aren’t really in their families’ good graces right now. They are two ordinary people, going to work, trying to make their lives better. As they go about their business, across the state, another railroad worker (Ethan Suplee) is trying to get his train onto a different track, and makes a series of mistakes that lead to the train being conductorless and under full power while carrying highly explosive cargo. The company tries everything they can think of, all while under the watchful eye of the news. Soon it becomes apparent that Will and Frank might be the only ones that can save the town of Stanton from pure annihilation. 

The genius of the film is Scott’s use of his camera and sound to make this train a true monstrosity. We see and hear all ten million pounds of this thing as it rushes towards Stanton. He moves things along quickly. It grabs us right at the start and doesn’t let go for the next 98 minutes. This is what an action film should do.

The action alone is sufficient for this to be a great movie, but the characters take it a step further. As they race towards the runaway train, they have some time to kill as they slowly gain on it, and talk to each other about their families. It’s the sort of conversation that shows how these two men know they could die but are reluctant to say so, and is indicative of just how well writer Mark Bomback knows his story. 

Denzel is perfect as usual and Chris Pine is certainly choosing some good roles. They play Will and Frank as totally normal, average guys who use their intelligence and knowledge of their profession to try and stop a ten million pound train. The supporting folks are great as well. Rosario Dawson plays the manager of the train station where the runaway train (ironically numbered 777) departed from. She’s a very efficient, quick on her feet boss, the opposite of her superior on the corporate end whose job it is to look out for the company and dollars lost.

As soon as the film was over, I wanted to watch it again. The audience during the whole film was gasping and audibly worried about what was going to happen. I have actively searched for a reason to not give this movie a perfect rating, but I can’t find one. I loved every single second.

Rating: 10/10

Unstoppable
Directed by Tony Scott

Written by Mark Bomback
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Ethan Suplee

Other Player Affinity Reviews

Dinah thought: “Who thought a runaway train could make for an exciting story premise? Give that man a gift basket and a ribbon. Unstoppable appeared silly in advertisements especially with its “based on a true story” marketing devise. But what worked for a bus in Speed certainly works for a train. Denzel Washington and Chris Pine have instant chemistry and both hold their own on the railroad as believable characters. Some of the supporting characters were a bit cheap, others too convenient as plot fillers. Disregarding a few distracting effects and editing this was an entertaining popcorn flick.” Rating: 8/10 

Steven thought: “Films with a tight premise tend to be reliable; so is the combination of Scott and Washington. The two have never struck gold, but they’ve produced solid, dependable box-office results and audience approval. Unstoppable has and will continue to achieve both. 90 minutes of entertainment can certainly be as good as gold and the film proves it with its straightforward delivery. Screenwriter Mark Bomback doesn’t cut the humanity out of the story. Although not entirely without awkward friction, he slides in the character development, backstory and the human angle to keep the story real. Scott also keeps the simple concept intense without overdoing it. I was a little peeved by the excessive “news coverage” of the events as they happened, but otherwise you’re in the moment. In essence, Unstoppable confines the reach of the film and infuses the core elements with enough guts and humanity to make the film entertaining and intriguing despite the sheer simplicity of concept. You wouldn’t expect a film about freight trains to excite anyone except model train collectors, but there’s no lack of intensity.” Rating: 8/10

Simon thought: “If director Tony Scott’s frenetic, frenzied and kinetic style should be applied to any film, I can think of few more fitting than that involving a runaway locomotive. A trim running time, superb special effects and grounding performances amidst the chaos makes for one good time at the movies, I’ll tell you that much. This is by far Scott’s best film since the Tarantino-scripted True Romance and marks his fifth collaboration with Denzel Washington and it seems as if the duo have things down to an art. Chris Pine, fresh off his Star Trek success, makes a fine addition to the formula, setting off a great back and forth, atypical chemistry with the veteran. Though some of the more clichéd action tropes remain, Unstoppable has by far enough style and out of control exuberance to make this one of the best straight-up action flicks of the year.” Rating: 8/10

Max thought: Unstoppable was one of the bigger surprises I came across in 2010. After all, if a train (albeit a high-powered runaway train) is set on a track, how much suspense are we talking about? We know where it’s going! Still, Tony Scott has pulled a fast one on the skeptics: Unstoppable is lean, mean fun. Anchored by two likable leads, bolstered by Scott’s jumpy style and fantastic sound design, Unstoppable provides more than one thrill during it’s run time. My one complaint about the film is not limited to Unstoppable, but many thriller-esque films like it: news reporters serving as exposition. If you’ve seen Spider-Man 3, you know how bad this can get and while the news segments of Unstoppable are not nearly as groan-inducing, their over-the-top approach to setting tone took me out of the moment more than once. Still, when the cameras are focused on that monster of a train, the film is sharp, taut and not without entertainment power.” Rating: 8/10

Player Affinity Composite Rating: 8.4/10 

Rating
8.4

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