Whenever I think of Denzel, “Shakin’ It For Daddy” by Robin Thicke starts playing in my head. He is one solid character of a man. Pair him up with Chris Pine (oh, Captain Kirk, man my starship) and it’s one sizzling moment after another. No other pair can save the day for this crazy train ride of a film, Unstoppable.
Based on a true story of a runaway train in Ohio in 2001, Unstoppable parallels the story of the chase through the Pennsylvania railroad system. The speeding train is carrying hazardous chemicals that will wipe out an entire town if derailed, and it’s left up to Denzel (Frank Barnes) and Pine (Will Colson) to save it when other efforts fail. It doesn’t sound like much of an action film when you think about a simple runaway train being stopped, but Tony Scott (director of Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and Man on Fire) has done a great job with the editing and action sequences (he also seems to love working with Denzel). I counted at least five major heart-stopping moments when you think something definite is about to happen and you’re caught off guard.
The chemistry between Denzel and Pine is what makes the movie ultimately worth watching. It is somewhat like Training Day (with Ethan Hawke) as it is Pine’s first day as a conductor on the job with the much more senior engineer Denzel (listen to Denzel – he knows what he’s doing). However, there is nothing sinister about the storyline except with respect to the corporate head (Kevin Dunn) making the wrong decisions in trying to stop the train.
Rosario Dawson plays the no-nonsense take-charge director of train operations, Connie Hooper, holding her own against the corporate power plays. Lew Temple, driving wildly as Ned Oldham, is the character based on Jon Hosfeld, the real-life Marysville, Ohio trainmaster who went from crossing to crossing (over 40) to try and board the runaway train. Hosfeld was the inspiration for the movie and had consulted on the set while the film was being made.
With the major dilemma before them, Denzel and Pine also deal with personal matters along the way. Denzel has a strained relationship with his young adult daughters and Pine is on the way to divorce court because of misunderstandings. As they spend the time running after the train, the media tracks their every move, with all the mishaps, and suddenly the relationships change. It’s funny how the possibility of death, or when your father or husband become heroes through the broadcast media, can bring families together.
This film has lots of visual explosions, crashes, and near misses that steal your breath away. It’s a definite thriller with two very engaging actors who are easy on the eyes (especially those baby blues, Captain Kirk) and ears (talk some more, please). Even if you’re not a train enthusiast you’ll find yourself glued to the suspense of the end result. There is one scene which was probably an attempt at comedy: law enforcement shooting at the train. Why? You shall have to watch it for the laugh, if you haven’t stopped laughing from how the train ran away in the first place.