Reviews: Unstoppable

Based on a True Story

"Based on a True Story" just means "less exciting."

I watched the first 13 minutes, stopped watching, and looked at a plot summary. Nothing in it surprised me, and nothing was different than what I expected when I saw that it was a movie about trains called Unstoppable. The only thing I didn't predict was that the veteran with the family photo DIDN'T die.

If you like straightforward, realistic action movies, you might like it.

EDIT: To clarify my review, I can't speak for anything about the movie except the predictability of its plot. If you like complex or interesting plots and if a stupid plot is a deal-breaker for you, you will not enjoy this movie.

Stopping Power

Chasing after a runaway train for two hours may not seem like the best way to spend a night at the cineplex, and it probably isnít. Unstoppable could be best described as a prolonged Discovery Channel documentary-style re-enactment, except with a much bigger budget and A-list stars. The picture real and gritty, with the film tinted a slight greyish hue and the camera giving us a look at the uncompromisingly unglamorous Pennsylvania suburbs and industrial districts.

While there are no big surprises to be had, a sizeable part of the movieís appeal is how relatable the characters feel, even when flung into slightly larger-than-life scenarios. Itís a film where the heroes are blue-collar workers, not Hollywood movie stars. And it is certainly better than Tony Scottís previous train-related film starring Denzel Washington, the mediocre remake The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.

The film also contains aspects of a good old-fashioned action thriller: the intensity feels heightened yet real and the action set-pieces are staged with fine pacing and carry much weight. When the #777 bashes through the obstacles in its path, you can truly feel the heft of that machine barrelling towards the screen.

The screenplay is also relatively tight. Nobody says more than they might in real life, and there are few superfluous lines of dialogue, as well as an appropriate smattering of brief humour. From a technical aspect, I readily bought into the filmís portrayal of the workings of locomotive transport, and at the same time, there isnít so much techno-babble as to lose the audience entirely.

Unstoppable succeeds mainly because it stays grounded, wheels-to-the-tracks, and puts across an exciting yet credible adventure, with a good sprinkling of emotion. That, supplemented by the judicious use of explosions.


Jedd Jong