With “Unstoppable,” Tony Scott (“The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3″), a director to whose hyperbolic stylings I am generally immune, and screenwriter Mark Bomback (“Race to Witch Mountain”) have returned to the basics of action filmmaking and concocted a movie that rips along with the speed and power of a runaway train because it’s about, uh, a runaway train.
Old number 777 gets away from its numbnuts engineer and ends up zipping along at 70 mph toward an elevated curve in the heart of a Pennsylvania city of 750,000 people. When it hits the curve, it will derail and spill tons of inflammable, toxic chemicals.
The pursuit and stopping of the train ends up in the laps of grizzled engineer Denzel Washington (“The Book of Eli”) and newbie conductor Chris Pine (“Star Trek”). Sweating out the chase at their desks are Rosario Dawson (“Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief”) and Kevin Dunn (“Transformers: Rise of the Fallen”).
Scott is an old hand at filming action, and this picture starts fast out of the station and accelerates all the way to the end of the line. It’s one of those pictures you don’t see very often anymore, in which the characters are blue-collar types who painlessly teach you something about the way they do their jobs. Nobody is better at playing that kind of guy than Washington, and Pine is no slouch at presenting a conflicted man who has doubts about putting his life on the line.
“Unstoppable” is an everyday thriller that shows us working guys who do what it takes because that’s their job. No guns, just guts. “Doug Bentin