Movie review: Unstoppable

A typically charismatic performance from Denzel Washington saves this action movie based on a not-so-exciting true story.

Unstoppable

Director: Tony Scott

Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson

A typically charismatic performance from the leading man Denzel Washington and some propulsive filmmaking fireworks from the director Tony Scott transform a surprisingly lumpen premise into satisfying cinematic spectacle. Here the central story, from Ohio in 2001, of a real-life driverless freight train that didn't actually crash and was eventually slowed safely to a halt is hardly the stuff of high drama. In fact, those viewers who are already aware of the news story itself might well be nagged throughout by the persistent memory that, well, nothing actually happened. However, Hollywood was never a community to let mundane reality stand in the way of a high-octane blockbuster, and thus we have the story of an ageing freight driver called Frank (Washington) who is working through the last three weeks of his forced retirement when the eponymous "unstoppable" train whizzes by with a deadly payload of chemicals and a potentially cataclysmic crash-point in the highly populated town of Stanton, Pennsylvania. And so, against the merciless company bosses who have rejected him, and an economy that has ground him down, Frank decides, nonetheless, with classic Denzel gravitas, to pursue the runaway in his own engine car and save the day and the lives of thousands. The real trick here, and it's something of a minor miracle, is how Scott shoots and cuts the action together. With his usual hyperactive eye and ear, he slams scenes and shots into each other, hurls Washington atop of the speeding freight car and makes us forget, if only for 90 minutes, that life was never really this exciting.

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