You’d think that to shoot a movie about a runaway train with two men in a desperate attempt to catch it and stop said train from blowing up a small town would make for exciting drama. Unfortunately, you couldn’t be more wrong. Tony Scott’s Unstoppable films like every Tony Scott action flick, which is to say that there is not much variation in his directing. Granted there are inventions such as Speed and about a billion other disaster related movies. some happily succeeding in making their plots compelling.
Thankfully Unstoppable doesn’t fall into the category of “worst films ever”, because despite the flaws that are scattered deep within, I can’t bring myself to say it’s a terrible movie. Rather, I found it extremely difficult to get drawn into the story. Sure, you have a runaway train, but it’s not doing anything other than moving at high speeds. Denzel Washington and Chris Pine are chasing the damn thing throughout most of the movie, talking about their respective lives and what they are going to do once they catch up to this beast of a train. Every once in awhile a car gets stuck on the tracks, giving this train an excuse to show off how powerful it is, crashing the helpless vehicles into tiny splinters.
I feel I should point out that I am a fan of both Denzel and Chris Pine. I thought Pine’s performance as Captain James T. Kirk was great and if you don’t agree with me then so be it. Denzel is always Denzel and to deny his general awesomeness is foolhardy, yet even with the combined might of these two actors, it’s all they can do to make the movie even remotely interesting. Their characters aren’t given a significant amount to work with, and so must deal with Hollywood-style personalities. One is the slightly embittered worker while the other is the new guy wanting to prove himself. Despite how this might have gone in real life, the two eventually become best of friends.
Unstoppable will remain as a movie with no popular culture significance. While it may have been “based on a true story,” that doesn’t automatically make it a crowd pleaser. I’m not sure why Tony Scott decided to make this film; perhaps he got bored from having done nothing for a while and went ahead with taking a crack at the next thing thrown his way. As with most Scott films, a gunfight must always take place. Unstoppable is no exception to this rule, as we are graced (I say this sarcastically) with a scene in which some policemen shoot at the train, in vain hopes of stopping it with a barrage of bullets. I didn’t say this movie was pure genius.
Honestly, I could have lived a still relatively decent life had I not seen Tony Scott’s latest. Going in, I was hoping for something a little more action packed that had a decent antagonist, not a train that someone forgot to put the brakes down on. I cannot emphasize this enough, the fact that Unstoppable was way too boring. Hollywood does its bit, making sure there are family friendly elements, letting us know that these are family men who have issues that need to be resolved. The only reason I can see this having any purpose whatsoever is because this is the sort of thing Hollywood does in vain attempts to get us to root for the heroes more; the realization that these men have families that they want to get home to and reconcile with, presumably calls out to our hearts. It doesn’t, not in this instance, but instead comes off as a clearly superficial attempt to make us care.
I left the theater feeling quite sad. The trailer made Unstoppable out to be an epic train-driven festival of splendid glory and instead all I received was an empty shell of a movie that failed to live up to its potential, full of unnecessary melodrama and non-exciting train rides. With the holiday season just around the corner, grand entourages of people are going to be packing in to see movies. That said, if you are finding choosing a movie to be a difficult task and don’t care a substantial amount over what you’re going to be watching for the next hour and a half, then be my guest and go see Unstoppable, only don’t expect to be terribly wowed.