Monday, November 15, 2010


MPAA (PG-13) USCCB (A-III) Roger Ebert (3 ½ stars) Fr. Dennis (3 ½ stars)

IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB Review -
Roger Ebert’s Review -

Unstoppable is not a complex story or a particularly original one.Trains been literally with us since the beginning of the motion picture era. Indeed, the very first movie to tell a story, The Great Train Robbery (1903). produced by Thomas Edison (inventor of the movie camera) himself, involved action and fighting on a train. Then one of the most iconic sequences in motion picture history, the “Damsel in Distress” tied to a set of railroad tracks before an onrushing train appeared first in the movie The Perils of Pauline (1914). These scenes have been repeated countless times in countless variations in Hollywood films since. And it’s because these stories work. There’s something primal and compelling about a large runaway machine. Sometime the runaway vehicle is an airplane (the Airport movies), at other times a bus or metro train (Speed). This time, it was a runaway freight train.

There are other stock elements in this story, the initial mutual mistrust between the young and the old, employees competing in “hard economic times” and the “big corporation” as crooked, unable to see beyond the bottom-line. Again these elements work because they ring true.

What makes a film like Unstoppable work is decent acting and then good editing. All the main actors in the movie play their part – Denzel Washington (playing Frank the old, suspicious engineer), Chris Pine (playing Will, the young, assistant engineer tired of being treated like a neophyte), Rosario Dawson (playing Connie, the super-competent but always overlooked hispanic woman dispatcher at a rail yard control center), Ethan Suplee (playing Dewee the unthinking screw-up in the rail yard whose missteps set-up the rest of the story), Kevin Corrigan (playing the federal inspector who happens to show up at Connie’s control center for a routine matter when the crisis first starts to unfold), and Kevin Dunn (playing Galvin, the middle level manager terrified of how this was going to look to the senior management). None of these roles are particularly difficult to play, but all the actors played them well. Then action and editing carried the rest.

Unstoppable is not a complicated movie, but it works and proves that it’s possible to spin a very good story even out of very familiar elements. Done as well as it is, it’s a movie that’s almost guaranteed to entertain.

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