Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and peril, and some language, 100 minutes
"Unstoppable" an entertaining non-stop joyride
In the entertaining new action-thriller "Unstoppable" you already know who the villain is: a runaway train. Starring Denzel Washington and "Star Trek's" Chris Pine and directed by Tony Scott, the film's action set pieces are breathless, exciting and white-knuckle, even if the story (inspired by real events) has a predictable "been there, done that" feel to it, not to mention a highly implausible but fun climax.
Pine is a newbie conductor named Will assigned to a train with a veteran engineer named Frank in Southern Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, at a nearby train station an error by an employee causes a train to spiral out of control at 70 miles per hour unmanned and carrying loads of toxic chemicals. Along with help from a disapatcher (Rosario Dawson), Will and Frank try to stop the train from crashing that would essentially wipe out a whole city.
"Unstoppable" is a enjoyable, action-adventure popcorn flick that could've easily been released during the summer movie season, when most films in this genre come out. Director Scott and his most-used leading man, Washington, re-team for the fifth time and their second outing together involving a deadly train (they worked together on last year's similarily-themed "The Taking of Pelham of 1-2-3"). Both films work near-perfect with Scott's usual fast-paced, frenetically edited, jumpy style, this even more so than "Pelham."
Based on real events that occurred in Ohio in 2001, the trains and the action take center stage in "Unstoppable" with characterization and story largely thrown out the (train) window (and once things get going, you don't really care). This is essentially "Speed" on a train, with Washington and Pine taking the Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves roles; you might also remember the 1985 Jon Voight thriller aptly called "Runaway Train," but "Unstoppable" runs the same colorful tracks as "Speed."
The film speeds predictably to a pat yet over-the-top climax, but there's no denying that "Unstoppable" provides some decent edge-of-your-seat entertainment that will likely make it a big hit. Washington gives his normal, stalwart performance that the veteran actor is accustomed to, while Pine continues his string of big action movies following his turn as the new James Kirk in the updated "Star Trek" films.
With the new "Harry Potter" film looming on the box-office horizion, this one will have a modest box-office take the first week and could be quickly forgotten, so enjoy it while you can.