Review: Unstoppable

Unstoppable is the sort of movie in which characters recite dialogue like “we’re not talking about a train, we’re talking about a missile the size of The Chrysler Building”, in which a beaver rushes across the path of a speeding train and in which cheering onlookers crowd around the television at Hooters. Unstoppable is like Speed for a new generation and it makes for some of the most thrilling 100 minutes you’ll experience in 2011, I’m sure of it.

Supposedly based on a true story – one that’s been pumped full of steroids for the cinema – this rollicking good time comes from Tony Scott (Man on Fire), purveyor of hyperactive action for adults. Unstoppoble stars Denzel Washington (Malcolm X) as Frank, an aging train system worker recently made redundant by a company wishing to bring in new young guns. The young gun is Chris Pine’s (Star Trek) Will, whose marital issues and tough guy stubble are meant to make us not see him as the impossibly pretty new pin-up boy that Hollywood is clearly pegging him as. Together these two men must try and stop a train as it hurtles out of control through the Pennsylvania countryside with tonnes of hazardous material onboard. Not only are they heading towards a city with a population of 250,000 people, but at one point the track gets so tricky to navigate it has its own nickname – “the curve” – at which point the train could topple over and exterminate anything and anyone within the local zipcode. Aren’t you chuckling just reading this plot description?

Opening with scenes that set up the unstoppable locomotive as an almost evil entity – so much so that Scott and cinematographer Ben Seresin appear to be remaking Terror Train – but before long the film is kicked into overdrive and, if you’re willing to go along for the ride, you’ll quickly forget all the silly clichés that are shoved into every scene. It helps that Scott knows exactly what kind of movie he is making and in a time when so many big action movies work overtime to be “gritty”, Unstoppable embraces its style.

There is also Rosario Dawson (Rent) as rebellious yard master Connie, Kevin Dunn (Vicki Cristina Barcelona) as her clueless boss and Elizabeth Mathis and Meagan Tandy as Frank’s daughters who just happen to work at Hooters. Naturally. It’s all high concept, filled with so many swooping, swinging and shaking camera movements, a bombastic soundtrack and plenty of action – and action that doesn’t look overly CGI, thankfully – makes Unstoppable an incredibly fun time at the cinema.

Unstoppable is released nationally on January 6th.

Director: Tony Scott

Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Dunn, Ethan Suplee, Kevin Corrigan, Elizabeth Mathis, Meagan Tandy and Jessy Schram.

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About Glenn Dunks

Glenn Dunks loves films, that we know for sure. As well as being a film critic for Trespass Magazine where his wildly unpredictable tastes you’ve grown accustomed to, Glenn is the creator and writer of film blog Stale Popcorn (http://stalepopcornau.blogspot.com) , film editor at Onya Magazine, has written for The Big Issue and Encore and has been heard on JOY 94.3. Glenn is based in Melbourne, is an active Twitterer (@stalepopcornau) and is and is particular fond of Australian, horror and queer cinema.