If your pals do manage to drag you to a cinema to watch Unstoppable (because it has Denzel Washington and Captain Kirk in it — so naturally it must be a good movie), make sure you sit next to a chatty friend, because it is going to be one long ride- pun intended.
While Unstoppable features two really good actors — the evergreen Denzel Washington as Frank, a veteran engineer, and new face Chris Pine as Will, Frank’s apprentice, the cast is probably the most the movie has to offer. What the film gains from having great protagonists, it loses in dialogues that mostly consist of cheesy lines aimed to make the railway profession look like the most daring, adventurous job out there. And of course, the ever-so-original plot about a runaway train carrying explosive material heading for a densely populated area really takes you by surprise too. Never seen that before.
In fact, you may just experience déjà vu while watching Unstoppable. It really does not have anything new to offer. In fact, if you decide to not go all the way to a cinema and sit at home watching Filmax instead, there is a good chance you might stumble upon something very similar flashing across your TV screen. Watching Unstoppable is like watching a bad version of Speed- yes, even that would have a more creative plot.
The movie does have some suspenseful moments, but they are short-lived, lasting around 30 seconds, which more or less nullifies their effect.
Director Tony Scott does a reasonable job of highlighting the backgrounds of the two lead characters, Frank and Will. However, his inability to actually link the plot to their personal lives makes you question if it would really make a difference if Frank were a doting single parent with two daughters or if he were an abusive grandparent supporting a family of five sons, three daughters, and eight grandchildren.
Other characters include Connie (played by Rosario Dawson) who plays the token radio contact for those on the train, Inspector Werner (played by Kevin Corrigan), a very smart official who just happens to be at the dispatch that very day and Galvin (Kevin Dunn), the stereotypical big boss of the train company whose ideas all revolve around saving corporate interests.
Although you can sense that the director tried to come up with a creative way to stop an out of control train, it is quite annoying to see him finally resort to a method that could have been used effectively much earlier in the movie. As it stands, the viewer is forced to sit through a one and a half hour flick that really does not have a satisfying climax or anticlimax. Much like the train, the plot moves forward along a mind-numbingly single track.
If you are absolutely dying to see an American blue collar action movie with minimal collateral damage and short-lived action sequences, this is a must for you. Otherwise wait a couple of months and you will be rewarded by a free viewing of Unstoppable on HBO or Star Movies.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 12th, 2010.
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