Recently, it seems there is too much hype about so many undeserving films. As much as movie critics gush adoringly we wonder what is really worthwhile seeing. You might hesitate to go to the theater no matter who is in front of, or behind the camera.
With an original budget of around $100 million, Unstoppable was released in theatres on November 12. Receiving 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, this is one of the few films delivering on every positive critique published. Roger Ebert said, "This is a superb film" and Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote, "This movie delivers so hard it shoots off sparks."
Based on a real 2001 runaway train incident in Ohio, the Pennsylvania set story hooks you in the first few minutes and doesn't release you until it's darn good and ready. When you leave the theater, you have to take deep breaths to loosen your clenched chest muscles. Unstoppable takes you on a complete and in-depth, 98-minute thrill ride.
If a six-foot man stands upright on the roof of a train streaking along at 70 miles per hour, how many train cars can he jump without falling if he is headed into the wind? Of course, the correct answer to this math exercise is "no way!" Like many action films today, Unstoppable contains a couple of scenes that are slap-your-forehead implausible. Nevertheless, we eagerly accept them and suspended disbelief because we're so invested in the story. That's what superior films do â they make you disregard the somewhat preposterous because if you stopped to make sense of these elements, it would remove you from the experience. And that's the last thing you want when you're having this much fun.
This type of film doesn't usually end up on the top of the heap come Oscar time, but this one may get nominations. Written by writer/producer Mark Bomback (Deception, Live Free or Die Hard) Untoppable mimics the on-screen train by powering up and breaking free from the pack. And it does it on so many levels. Tony Scott is a master of putting you on the edge of your seat whether you're riding a nuclear missile (Crimson Tide), a racecar (Days Of Thunder) or another train (The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3).
The visuals in this film overlap, and flash before you with just the right amount of intensity, fueling this in-your-face journey and making it ideal for big screen viewing. When have you seen a high-speed train shrieking around a curve and wrenching off its supports â and done realistically? The Unstoppable cinematic techniques in this film make you feel you're viewing it from the tracks ahead and all you want to do is jump into a ditch.
Besides visuals, one of the many elements of this movie that makes it so impressive is the sound. Most of us don't experience the deafening screech of trains straining to stay in control, so it was a very effective tool with which to engage the audience. And on the same note, not many of us have first hand knowledge of train yards or the intricacies of train mechanics, so there may have been a lot of questionable moments that went unquestioned because we don't know any better. Our ignorance was without a doubt, a definite plus for the filmmakers.
Denzel Washington has always packed truth into his performances. He has a unique talent that makes you believe he's the guy with the job, the go-to guy, the one you can count on in almost any situation. Here, he's under full power and does not disappoint. Neither does Chris Pine, who played Kirk in the 2000 Star Trek, a young actor who holds his own with the many seasoned and talented actors in this film, including the flawless Rosario Dawson. Through much of the film Washington and Pine are alone, either loudly slamming against each other like broken train cars, or letting their personal stories leak out in a filtered and relevant way. It's not sappy, contrived, or overly talky. They do it so well you might feel you're intruding on a private conversation.
Dialogue is sleek and pointed which is a credit to Bomback. No blabber. No melodramatics. One of the most powerful lines in this film, one you'll hear at the office on Monday, the kind that makes an audience want to stand and cheer, comes when Chris Pine revolts against the orders of his superiors and he delivers his big message to them through a small mouthpiece, "We're gonna run this BLEEP down!" Definitely the coolest guy in the room.
There are films that might lose some traction in the telling if they are watched on a small screen. This may be one of them. While it's still running go to your local cineplex, sit in the dark and watch this masterful collection of huge talent. But hold onto your popcorn and keep your arms inside the car at all times.
The movie tag line: 1,000,000 Tons. 100,000 Lives. 100 Minutes